Whether it was the decimation of the pitching staff, the wrist issues for Jose Bautista, or just the general wear and tear experienced by players throughout the season, the injury bug had its way of working through the Toronto Blue Jays roster in 2012.
So it is somewhat fitting that the one Blue Jays player to exceed expectations and to play relatively injury free all season, Edwin Encarnacion, should finally be bested by one. A tight trapezius muscle, not to mention a guaranteed fourth place finish in the division, was enough for the Blue Jays to opt to shut Encarnacion down for the the final four games of the year.
Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the few bright spots on what turned into a dismal season for the Blue Jays. The 29-year-old first baseman/designated hitter set career highs nearly across the board in 2012, finishing the season with a .280 batting average, 42 home runs, 110 RBI, a .941 OPS, and an OPS+ of 151. His oWAR rating of 5.1 ranks him in the top 7th in the American League.
The Blue Jays are banking that his 2012 performance is a similar turn-around to the one experienced by Bautista. They have enough faith in that assessment that Toronto, who had outright waived Encarnacion in November 2010, gave Encarnacion a three-year, $27 million extension with a $10 million club option for 2016.
With the shutdown, the only thing remaining for Encarnacion in 2012 is his finish in the balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player award. While Encarnacion will doubtfully usurp either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout, the voters will surely have to show him some love in the voting by throwing him a few third place votes. After missing out on the All-Star game, it is the least they can do.
Especially for a MVP-caliber season.