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ADP Debate - Adam Eaton vs. Kyle Schwarber

This article is about two outfielders with similar ADP who are completely different players in terms of their fantasy production as well as their skill set.

Although there is an abundance of riches at the outfield position every year, it is still very important to nail your picks in the middle-to-late rounds as that’s where all of the potential league-winning value resides.

Enter Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber (early ADP 201, OF51) and Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton (early ADP 209, OF54). We’ll look at each player's 2018 surface statistics, advanced batted ball metrics, and 2019 projections to determine who you should target if deciding between the two.

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No Longer a National Treasure

Adam Eaton is 30 years old and entering his eighth season at the MLB level. He has displayed consistency in the batting average category throughout his career, having hit over .284 in each of the last five seasons and surpassing the .300 mark in 2018. There is speculation within the beat writer community that Eaton will be playing elsewhere in 2019 due to the emergence of young slugger Victor Robles and Eaton’s own injury struggles, but we will approach this comparison with the thought that he will be a National come Opening Day.

Eaton hit for a .301/.394/.411 slash line in 2018, adding five home runs, nine steals, 33 RBI, and 55 runs scored over just 370 plate appearances in an injury-plagued season. Eaton is definitely a platoon-hitter, recording an .831 OPS with 20 homers over 941 plate appearances against right-handed pitching since 2016 (as opposed to .683 OPS with one home run over 242 plate appearances versus left-handed pitchers). He ranked 12th in on-base percentage and 18th in batting average among hitters with a minimum of 300 plate appearances.

His advanced hitting metrics do not paint a pretty picture, however. Eaton ranked 52nd in wOBA (weighted on-base average - OBP that accounts for how a player reached base), 132nd in xwOBA (same as wOBA, except it accounts for exit velocity, launch angle, and Sprint Speed), 282nd in Barrels/PA, 278th in Barrels/Batted Ball Event, 258th in Hard Hit %, and 274th in Average Exit Velocity. These are especially concerning numbers considering the Statcast leader-boards only lists 332 qualified hitters. Eaton looks to be a slightly overvalued fantasy producer at this point in his career, though he is capable of assisting in the batting average, on-base percentage, stolen bases, and runs scored categories if he can stay healthy. Steamer projects Adam Eaton for a .283/.366/.412 slash line in 2019, adding 10 home runs, 11 steals, 52 RBI, and 77 runs scored. Not exactly the type of production you’d like to see out of an everyday fantasy lineup option.


The Underrated Slugger

Kyle Schwarber is just 25-years-old and is entering his fifth MLB season, though his 2016 was shortened to just five plate appearances after suffering a torn ACL. Like Eaton, Schwarber has also displayed consistency at the plate in his MLB career. Unlike Eaton, Schwarber suffers in the average department but has shown remarkable power, averaging 24 home runs and a .470 slugging percentage over his three full seasons. Schwarber had a decent year in 2018, slashing .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, 61 RBI, 64 runs scored, and four steals over 510 plate appearances. The slugger is also a righty-killer, hitting 25 of his 26 home runs and a 31% higher OPS against right-handers in 2018. He had the eighth-highest strikeout rate in the MLB at 27.5%, but his 15.3% walk rate and .229 ISO were superb.

His advanced batted ball profile crushes Eaton’s as well. In 2018, Schwarber ranked 85th in wOBA (the only advanced hitting stat Eaton ranked higher in), 71st in xwOBA, 47th in Barrels/PA, 26th in Barrels/Batted Ball Event, 39th in Hard Hit %, and 75th in Average Exit Velocity. Steamer is projecting a .241/.354/.478 slash line for Schwarber, chipping in 29 home runs, 80 RBI, five steals, and 73 runs scored. He looks to be undervalued coming into the 2019 season due to last year’s dip in batting average and underwhelming RBI total.


The Decision

When comparing Schwarber and Eaton by evaluating their fantasy prospects for the 2019 season, a few things stand out that tip the scale in Schwarber’s favor. First and foremost, although you shouldn’t put a ton of weight into future projections, the sheer amount of projected fantasy value added for Schwarber needs to be taken into consideration. He’s projected to hit 19 more home runs and 28 more RBI while staying right on par with Eaton’s projected on-base percentage and runs scored. Second, though you’re sacrificing the batting average category and potential for 15 or more steals, the fantasy ceiling for Schwarber seems to be much higher than Eaton’s, who hasn’t ever hit 15 home runs and has had a recent run of serious injuries.

You want to pick the player with the higher ceiling at this point in the draft. Bottom line: draft Schwarber ahead of Eaton if given the opportunity to pick between the two, and reach for Schwarber even earlier in points leagues where batting average isn’t taken into account and counting stats hold additional weight.

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