Edwin Encarnacion: Toronto Blue Jays 2014 Year In Review


After the break-out season that Edwin Encarnacion enjoyed in 2012, when he exploded for 42 home runs and 110 runs batted in, you could hardly blame fans for wanting to see an encore to be sure that the career underachiever was legitimately the real deal. He did just that in 2013, following up with 36 more home runs and again topping the 100 RBI mark.

The combination of two consecutive 30-home run seasons and the consistent run production helped cement Encarnacion as not only one of the best power hitters in the game today, but also also labeled him as one of the biggest bargains, along with teammate Jose Bautista. That has made the Toronto Blue Jays immensely happy, as they endured Edwin’s growing pains, and also wound up a bit lucky when Oakland opted to waive him and open the door for his return to Toronto prior to the 2012 season.

The two waivers likely served as a wake-up call for Edwin Encarnacion and the monster bat inside him has not fallen asleep since.

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The Good:

For a third consecutive season, Edwin Encarnacion wrote his name on the American League leader boards. Edwin placed 7th in the AL with 34 long balls, 10th with 98 RBI, 4th with a .547 Slugging Percentage, 6th with a wRC+ of 150, and his .279 ISO was tops in the entire American League.

Additionally, during the month of May Edwin Encarnacion was the best player in baseball, winning American League Player of the Month for the season’s second month. With a team record 16 bombs during the month and the addition of 33 RBI, 26 runs, and a wRC+ of 212 for the month, the Blue Jays rode Encarnacion’s hot bat to the top of the American League East standings and put the team into a good position for the season’s final months.

The Bad:

Unfortunately for the Toronto Blue Jays, the season quickly fell apart after May, and a lot of that can be tied back to Edwin Encarnacion literally falling apart. Edwin would launch 7 more home runs in June, but July saw the slugger crumble to the ground running to first base on July 5th, going down to a quad injury that held him out until August 15th. The Blue Jays chose to try and wait it out, thinking the injury was more mild than it was, and gambled wrong, as the offense suffered without Encarnacion in the middle of it.

For Encarnacion, it marked the second straight season that the Blue Jays first baseman had his year cut short by injuries. The 128 games played was his lowest since the 2010 campaign, when he was still embattled and couldn’t get himself into the line-up. Another thing that reared its ugly head was also the strike-out, as Edwin watched his K-rate rise to 15.1%, his highest rate since 2010.

The Future:

Despite losing time once again to injury, the good news for the Blue Jays is that Encarnacion’s injuries haven’t been consistent. His season ended in 2013 with a wrist injury, whereas he lost time in 2014 with a fluke quad injury. We can be assured that no team in the league, let alone the Blue Jays are pinning the injury prone tag on the 31-year-old.

That said, they are pinning the tag of slugger on him, and in a game that is quickly being sapped of power, that makes the Blue Jays first baseman a hot commodity, and he is routinely asked about in trade talks from teams looking to improve in that department. Unfortunately for them, the Toronto Blue Jays are not looking to shop from the core of their line-up, meaning that Encarnacion and Bautista are likely to remain the best 3-4 (and sometimes 2-3) punch in the game. That’ll once again put Encarnacion into the 30 home run, 100 RBI territory, and if a healthy season is in the works, then 40 home runs can definitely happen.

In the immediate future, the Blue Jays face an interesting decision this season. Edwin’s 2015 season is the final year of guaranteed dollars for Encarnacion. Of course, the team has a 2016 option worth another $10 million, and unless something drastic happens, that is an option they are likely to exercise. That means the team will possibly engage Encarnacion on an extension to his existing deal. That’ll cost them a few more dollars, but it could be  well worth it for the team after living the last few years on one of the most cost effective deals in the game.

Until that point, Edwin Encarnacion will just take up his normal post, mashing pitchers with efficiency and a newfound consistency.