We have all heard about the potential of Edwin Encarnacion. Every season we hope that it is going to be the year that he puts it together, yet there always appears to be a reason that we feel disappointed.
Last season he hit 21 HR, though he hit just .240…
In 2007 he hit .289, but he didn’t show much power with 16 HR…
In 2008 he hit 26 HR, but couldn’t drive in runs with 68 RBI…
Over the first few months of 2011 it looked like we were headed towards more of the same. Prior to the All-Star Break he was hitting .255 with 6 HR and 19 RBI over 247 AB. While he wasn’t striking out a significant number of times (39), he also wasn’t drawing walks (9).
It appeared like a foregone conclusion that the Blue Jays wouldn’t exercise the option they had for him for 2012. It also appeared like we may have finally heard the last of Encarnacion as a potential breakout candidate.
That has all changed since the All-Star Break, however, and with the hot streak continuing to roll you have to wonder if he has somehow finally figured it out. As crazy as it sounds, he is just 28-years old and it is not unheard of for something to simply click.
First, look at the numbers he posted over the past two months:
- July – .313 (30-96), 4 HR, 14 RBI, 19 R, 3 SB
- August – .307 (31-101), 6 HR, 15 RBI, 23 R, 1 SB
What has been even more amazing has been his ability to suddenly draw walks. Over the past two months he’s walked 25 times, compared to 9 over the first three months of the season. It’s a tremendous change and, with the improved patience, he has seen significantly better results.
He has seen some increased luck, with BABIP of .361 and .321, but those are far from unbelievable numbers considering his line drive rates of 23.7% and 16.7%. You couple those numbers with the walk rates (9.4% and 12.7%) and it’s easy to explain the improved runs scored. Considering he’s in the middle of a loaded lineup, there is also no reason to think that it can’t continue.
He also has lowered his fly ball rate over the past few months. After posting 51.6% marks over each of the first two months he had marks of 40.7%, 40.8% and 45.2% the next three months. Increased fly balls generally leads to a lower BABIP, so correcting that issue is a very good explanation for the improved average.
Obviously, you would think fewer fly balls would mean fewer home runs, so it is a little bit odd to see the home runs actually improve recently as well. At the same time his HR/FB the previous two months has been 12.9% and 15.8%. Those are numbers that are extremely believable.
When you put it all together there has been an awful lot to like from Encarnacion over the past two months. While it is impossible to ignore his struggles over the first few months, it now feels like a lifetime ago. That’s not to say that he couldn’t regress or hit a cold streak, but it just feels like there has been a change to his approach.
He’s a must use option at 3B for the final month of the season. We’ll have to take a closer look at him in the offseason, after we get another month’s worth of data, in order to determine his potential 2012 value. For now, however, just enjoy the benefits he’s giving you.
What are your thoughts of Encarnacion? Do you think he has finally figured it out? Is he a player you are willing to use?