Who is Adam Eaton?
Adam Eaton is slated to be the Chicago White Sox opening day lead-off hitter and center fielder. Occupying the first spot in any team's batting order provides a huge opportunity for fantasy success. Eaton is flying somewhat under the radar in terms of fantasy hype, but he will be a household name by seasons end.
After being named the Pacific Coast League's Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 2012, Eaton was expected to assume an everyday role with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2013 campaign. However, a right elbow injury sidelined him for the majority of the season. The 25 year-old has played in a mere 88 major league games in his young career.
An offseason trade finds Adam Eaton on the Southside with health, opportunity and potential finally coming together. The Sox are coming off of a disappointing year and Eaton could be the man to start the new season off on the right foot. He is a hard-nosed player who is willing to do whatever it takes to get on base. Look for Eaton to take walks, lay down bunts, and lean into inside pitches on a regular basis. A good player knows his strengths, and Eaton's biggest asset is his speed. That speed, combined with some of the new White Sox power acquisitions, will result in a successful season for the scrappy left-hander.
2014 Season Outlook
The key to a successful fantasy team is owning players that fill a need. Not every one of your players is going to contribute heavily in every category. This is where Adam Eaton fits in. Fantasy sports analysts often talk about a risk/reward gamble when it comes to certain players. Eaton is definitely one of those guys. In this case, Eaton's reward outweighs his risk.
The main risks in drafting Adam Eaton come down to health, which is a gamble for any player, experience and playing time. Though he has had injuries in the past, Eaton appears to be primed and ready to take on his new role with the Sox. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see how the speedsters body will hold up over a full season.
The other issue, at least for the moment, is a crowded outfield. The White Sox have four solid options in their outfield. Avisail Garcia will be the starting right fielder, while Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo will be battling for playing time in left field. Eaton just needs to concentrate on his job, as these things have a tendency to work out. The Sox are also likely looking to trade De Aza or Viciedo in preparation for their final 25-man roster.
While the risks regarding drafting Adam Eaton are not very significant, the rewards will be. Though he does have some pop and will certainly drive in his share of runs this year, most of Eaton's fantasy contributions will come in two categories: stolen bases and runs. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Feb. 23 that Eaton will have a "green light" on the basepaths in 2014. Any time he is on base and feels as though he could steal a bag, he will do so. Not only will his speed help owners rack up stolen bases, but it will also help him motor around the bases when his teammates put the ball in play. Sluggers Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia and Adam Dunn will be glad to have a guy like Eaton leading the charge at the top of the order.
Projected Stat Line: .270 AVG, 88 R, 9 HR, 45 RBI, 30 SB
Where To Draft Him
In traditional 10-team leagues, Eaton will serve owners well as the fourth or fifth outfielder on the roster. Mock drafts show Eaton getting drafted around the 200th pick. Eaton's value climbs significantly in 12-team or A.L.-only leagues. If you are looking for stolen base help and have missed out on guys like Brett Gardner or Austin Jackson, keep an eye out for Eaton in the later rounds to solidify your roster. You won't be disappointed.
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