Edwin Encarnacion 6th Best 1B Right Now?


The MLB Network has a “statistical analysis” machine  called “The Shredder” that uses pure stats to determine the top 10 players at each position.  The show consists of analyzing The Shredder’s list as well as analysis from two real-life human beings, Brian Kenny, and a guest analyst.  (h/t to Jason Rollison of rumbunter.com)

The following installment looks at the Top First basemen in Major League Baseball. According to The Shredder, Toronto Blue Jays’ 1B, Edwin Encarnacion is the 6th best in all of baseball.

It is an interesting discussion between good old fashioned observation and gut (played by Carlos Pena in this discussion) and cold hard facts, or shallow metrics. It is worth noting that Pena had Edwin as high as 4th, while Brian Kenny put him as low as 8th. 

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  • Edwin Encarnacion finished with just 128 games played. He put up 34 home runs, including an amazing 16 in May, which was good for 8th in MLB. He was tied for 13th in RBI with 98. In case you were wondering, he was tied with new Blue Jay, Josh Donaldson. He was 5th in slugging at .547. All of this came while missing  34 games. Given that his HR rate works out to roughly one every 4 games, in theory, he could have hit another 8 or 9 had he played a full season. As well, he had an RBI in 3 out of every 4 games, which would have led to another 20-25 RBI.

    Obviously, these offensive numbers put him among the league leaders. If he had played a full season (using the probably flawed math above), he would have ranked 1st in HR and RBI. But, in my mind, you have to also play defense. For that discussion, we have to leave out the fact that Encarnacion played 46 games at DH in 2014.

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    According to Fangraphs.com (who still have him listed as a third basemen), his defensive numbers are kind of…not pretty in 80 games. He put up a UZR/150 of -9.7. For comparison #1 and #2 on The Shredder’s List of top 1B in MLB Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt respectively put up UZR/150 of 3.9 and 1.1. Obviously, Edwin is a far cry from those numbers. In fact, he was worth -5.1 DRS in 2014. Perhaps a better showing with the glove could  have landed EE higher on this list.

    However, the Blue Jays are not really leaning on him for his glove. They are paying him for the large quantity of chicken wings he delivers. His home run trots are what the club is banking on. Although, given their options, he may be called upon to pull more than a half season at 1B.

    The Blue Jays enter the 2015 season with only two realistic options at first base. Either they expect Encarnacion to play there every day while Dioner Navarro gets reps at DH. Or, Navarro is moved, which likely relegates Edwin to DH and brings Justin Smoak (and his 1.6 UZR/150) into the picture. Before anyone jumps at me, it is unlikely that the Blue Jays would consider Danny Valencia as a full time 1B. It is even less likely that they keep Navarro and get him to put on the first baseman’s glove. That would definitely be a project.

    Regardless, it would appear that The MLB Network is recognizing what fans around these parts have know for a while- the Blue Jays have a Top 10 1B in their lineup.

    Next: Blue Jays Lose Arbitration to Danny Valencia