Washington Nationals: Adam Eaton is the MVP candidate we forgot

CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 30: Adam Eaton /

After missing most of 2017, Adam Eaton is back with the Washington Nationals. Thus far, the scrappy outfielder looks like someone who could sneak into MVP candidacy. Will he carry a hot bat throughout the 2018 season?

Ask anyone which member of the Washington Nationals they think has the best chance at winning the MVP, most would say Bryce Harper. Some may choose Anthony Rendon or select Trea Turner to have a breakout year. Not many would say Adam Eaton is their favorite to win the league’s best player award.

Eaton is probably not an MVP caliber player. After all, the only consideration he ever received came in 2016 with a distant 19th place.

However, since becoming an everyday player in 2014, few players have been as consistent as “Spanky.”

Why Eaton is a sleeper MVP pick

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Finishing with WARs of 5.1, 4.0, and 6.1 from 2014-2016 highlight just how valuable Eaton is. If not for a move to center field in 2015 which proved he belongs in the corner outfield, Eaton’s total in that middle year would have been greater.

If we were to take the 6.1 WAR Eaton posted in 2016, we get a great idea of how high he may rank in the statistic this year.

In 2017, the only National League position players to finish the year with WARs above 6.0 were MVP Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado, Tommy Pham, and Kris Bryant. This is certainly some elite company for Eaton to keep.

Thanks in large part to Eaton playing left field every day for the Nationals this year, we should see a similar output. Eaton doesn’t need to worry about playing center field and seeing his defensive metrics drop. The Nationals have Michael Taylor and Brian Goodwin locked in.

Winning the MVP is more than WAR. There are plenty more statistics. Because he bats leadoff for such a potent lineup, I see Eaton reaping the benefits further.

Scoring 100 runs should come easy for Eaton. With Rendon and Harper hitting directly behind him, all he needs to do is get on base. His career .360 OBP tells us he will achieve this regularly.

Eaton’s biggest challenge

Perhaps Eaton’s biggest deterrent in capturing the MVP Award will be his lack of home run power. At best, we should expect him to hit in the mid-teens.

Not all MVP winners are true power hitters, but with home runs come other fat statistics to put them over everyone else. It’s difficult to imagine that at 29-years-old Eaton will suddenly find his home run stroke.

Even if he receives little consideration for the MVP, expect a few votes tossed in his direction this year. Eaton has the potential to hit .300, score 120 runs, and set the table for the best team in baseball.

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Fantasy baseball players know best how much their fictional team can benefit from a stacked lineup. When those around you perform well, you have a chance to do even better. As a member of the 2018 Washington Nationals, Eaton gets this luxury for 162 days.