When I started writing this piece it was meant to look at the success of Edwin Encarnacion. Whether you refer to him as E5, E2 or Edwin “Encarnasheeyon,” as our good friend Buck Martinez calls him, there’s no way around the fact that his journey from being designated for assignment to 40+ home run, bat flipping, bobble head inspiring man he is today is remarkable. The thing is though, at first glance his stats for 2013 don’t look all that impressive, asides from being tied for the American League lead in home runs, with 11, his .231/.313/.469/ stat line is quite unremarkable. What makes it all the more puzzling is a recent article at baseballanalytics.org charting the relation between strike out rates and home runs.
I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the Jay’s players on their chart to examine them more closely.
From the chart you can clearly see the how Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both have a patient approach which helps cement them as elite power hitters. You can also clearly see how Colby Rasmus and J.P Arencebia are hacking away wildly, like Stevie Wonder going after a pinata and have happened to run into a few mistake pitches along the way.
Now this is where things stop getting so clear, Rasmus and Encarnacion both sport a .231 batting average despite Rasmus leading the league in strikeout percentage. In order to clear things up taking a look at both players BABIP paints a much more complete picture, although you might not like everything you see in that picture.
Let’s start with the good news, the league average BABIP is betwen .290 and .310, our parrot toting friend Edwin sits at a paltry .207. That puts him not only well below the league average but also below his career mark of .277 and the .266 he posted last year. So much like the rest of the squad so far in 2013 you can expect Encarnacion to start performing closer to expectations as his BABIP reverts towards the mean.
But just as BABIP giveth, BABIP taketh away, and while Edwin’s numbers are suppressed by his BABIP Colby’s .231 average is actually being buoyed by a lofty .368 BABIP. Yes you read that correctly Colby could get a whole lot worse! Technically the bottom could fall out at any minute sending his numbers to a dismal place that much better represents his 41.5% strike out rate. The one consolation Jays fans can take (somewhat) is that his career K% is only 24.1% so he could see a reduction in strikeouts over time as well.
While I don’t want to write off Rasmus completely looking at this BABIP over his career shows that even his much heralded 2010 campaign with the Cardinals was fueled by a .354 BABIP well above his career mark of .310. If this season his BABIP starts to plummet before the strikeouts do it will certainly increase the ferocity of the angry mob wanting his head (and or hair). And the free Anthony Gose movement will begin gaining more traction in a hurry even though is numbers in Buffalo could hardly be called impressive.