When Kendrys Morales signed with the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason the veteran slugger had the daunting task of replacing Edwin Encarnacion forced on him.
Edwin Encarnacion, of course, had been a key part of Blue Jays teams that had been to back-to-back American League Championship series, and his departure and the theatrics surrounding the situation left fan’s heartbroken, and a gaping hole in the middle of the Blue Jays’ lineup.
Kendrys Morales, who despite not having Encarnacion’s upside, has provided Toronto with a fair share of offensive punch at both sides of the plate at much more palatable dollar figure.
Given the events that led to both sluggers landing with their current clubs, their respective production will continually be compared and contrasted, with heightened interest being given this week as the Blue Jays and Indians kick off their season series at Rogers Centre.
Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Encarnacion has underwhelmed offensively in the early stages of his Indians career, with five home runs, 11 RBI’s and a slash line of .223/.362/.375.
As low as these figures may seem, this kind of stalled production is not uncommon for the reigning American League RBI Leader.
As the graphic indicates, Edwin is, and always has been, slow out of the gate.
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Whatever he may lack in the starters block, Encarnacion more than makes up for down the stretch, however, as the Dominican Republic native has doubled his home run production for March and April in the month of May in each of his previous three seasons. The most impressive being in 2014, when after hitting only two home runs in Mar/Apr, the three-time All Star exploded for 16 homers in May.
It’s clear from his past production that it is impossible to gauge Edwin’s likelihood for success this early in the season. His performance in the coming months, where he has historically shifted his game into a higher a gear, will be the true litmus test in evaluating Encarnacion’s long term production.
Even when you take into consideration the bearded teens who line the outfield wall’s of Kauffman Stadium, providing a little extra distance for home team shots to the warning track, Morales’ 30 home runs last year with the Royals carried extra weight considering he played half of his games in one of baseball’s premier defensive parks.
His raw power and ability to hit from both sides of the plate put Morales atop the Blue Jays list of potential options to, dependant on the fate of Encarnacion, fill the team’s vacancy at first base/DH.
After his signing there was considerable speculation surrounding just how many home runs Morales would hit playing in the hitter friendly AL East. For comparisons sake, Josh Donaldson increased his career high in home runs by 12 in his first season playing in Toronto and the greener pastures of Rogers Centre, coming over from Oakland.
From a statistical standpoint, Morales has out-performed EE in nearly every offensive category so far this season. With the veteran slugger posting six home runs, 20 RBI’s and a slash line of .244/.294/.433 heading into Wednesday night.
One surprising statistic is that the majority of his production, most notably 17 of his 20 RBI’s, have come away from Rogers Centre .
This discrepancy in his splits is a product of opportunity and not anything to give a second thought to, however, as Morales has nearly double, 78 vs. 47, the plate appearances on the road compared to at home.
If Morales can remain healthy, we are still awaiting word on his MRI results after the DH left Tuesday’s game with hamstring tightness, increased Rogers Centre at-bats will be nothing but beneficial for the slugger’s power numbers, something that can hopefully act as a catalyst towards helping the Blue Jays right the ship after a disappointing start to the season.