Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion hasn’t been himself throughout parts of 2015, with an OPS (.829) below .900 for the first time since 2011. Encarnacion has battled some nagging injuries, but his statistical outputs often rely on one otherworldly streak that buoys his performance across the board. We’re only in the early stages, but Edwin may be on the verge of another trademark tear.
We saw this much earlier in the 2014 season, where Encarnacion had a month of May that was hard to believe. He recorded a slash line of .281 / .369 / .763 over 30 games, crushing 16 home runs and driving in 33. Now back to full health at the heart of the Blue Jays lineup, Edwin has been a hitting machine since the calendar turned to August.
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In nine games this month, Encarnacion has hit .387 / .474 / .742 with two home runs, five doubles and nine RBI. Heck, he’s even shown some serious Edwin Hustle to stretch borderline hits into extra bases.
It’s fascinating to watch Encarnacion round into form, because unlike many players in the MLB, the arc of his season and success is very clear to see. His timing has been hit-or-miss throughout much of the summer, but slowly, pop-outs turn into fly balls. Those fly balls slowly turn into just-barely-missed home runs, and then balls begin to leave the park. It’s a progression, and personally, my favorite annual tradition.
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After years of wondering how the Blue Jays roster would find a way to win, often entirely on the back of Jose Bautista or Encarnacion, this revamped 2015 lineup has us doing the opposite. With an offensive output far greater than anything this fan base could have asked for, we are now left to hesitantly look for which piece could crack first. Admittedly, Edwin had been the name I was watching closest through the first four months.
At 32, he’s got plenty of baseball left, but as a player who is becoming somewhat one-dimensional, his future with the Blue Jays lacks certainly beyond his $10 million option for 2016, which is a lock to be picked up by the organization. Thankfully, his “one dimension” is a mighty fine dimension.
Toronto will soon travel to Philadelphia for a two-game set versus the Phillies, and Encarnacion should be feeling well enough to take the field at first base for both games. I do think, however, that there’s something to be said about the link between his positioning and offensive output.
In the 20 games since the All Star break, Encarnacion has started as the DH for 17, playing just three games at first base. His OPS is nearly .100 points higher at DH in 2015 compared to when he takes the field, so perhaps we also have Justin Smoak‘s emergence to thank for the latest instalment of Hot Edwin.