The 2014 campaign might have not seemed particularly important at the time. However, it was actually setting the stage for finally returning to the playoffs the next season after a 22-year absence.
The Blue Jays finished third in the AL East with a 83-79 record and fifth in the Majors for scoring. Leading the way was Bautista, looking more like what he was capable of following a couple of seasons battling injuries.
The three-time Silver Slugger led the Blue Jays in home runs, walks, total bases, OBP and OPS. As a result, he also produced an impressive team-high 6.0 WAR, earned his fifth consecutive All-Star selection and finished sixth in AL MVP voting.
As you'd expect though for a team which finished fifth-highest in scoring, it wasn't just a one-man effort. Encarnación was second on the team with 34 home runs, while finishing just short of the 100-RBI mark, with 98.
The 2013 campaign was a miserable one for the Blue Jays. In the post World Series/strike era, their 74-88 record was tied for their third-worst in 18 years.
In addition, the Blue Jays finished bottom in their division, as the only team with a losing record. Somewhat surprisingly then, they did finish ninth in the Majors in scoring. (Although for some context, just eighth in the AL.)
Leading the way for the Blue Jays was Encarnación, just one season removed from his break-out year. And when we say leading, we mean this in the most emphatic of ways.
Consider that the Dominican Republic native was the team leader in a host of offensive categories. This included hits, doubles, home runs, walks, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases and runs.
Additionally, as per the subject matter for this post, Encarnación was also the only Blue Jays player to reach the 100 RBI mark, with 104. He earned his first All-Star selection, as well as some AL MVP votes.
Interestingly, the 2000 ninth round draft pick was only third on the team with a 4.0 WAR. Colby Rasmus -- remember him? -- was first with a 4.8 WAR, while Bautista was second with a 4.1 WAR.
Ultimately though it didn't mean much, in a season which had such high expectations beforehand. However, Encarnación deserves respect for doing everything he could to keep the team competitive.