MLB

Baseball’s Unsung Slugger Could Have His Best Season Yet

Edwin Encarnacion

Last week, a team who likes to make deals before the trade deadline – the New York Yankees – traded for Seattle Mariners’ slugger Edwin Encarnacion. Encarnacion will bring a little more pop to an already lethal Yankees’ lineup, putting in time at DH and platooning at first base with Luke Voit. 

The trade looks like a good one for the Yankees and there are a few reasons why Encarnacion could have his best season yet. (All stats represented here are for games through June 26, 2019). 

Edwin Encarnacion’s career numbers

In his 15th season with his fifth team, Edwin Encarnacion is one of the more underrated power hitters in the game. He hasn’t played in one city his whole career like Derek Jeter or Joey Votto.

He’s played in Cincinnati, Toronto, Cleveland, Seattle, and now New York. He’s never mentioned among the game’s elite talents, yet upon closer inspection, his production may surprise you:

  • 404 home runs
  • 1,210 RBI
  • .498 slugging percentage
  • A career Wins Above Replacement (WAR) level of 34.1. 

For his on the field achievements, he’s also received several accolades as well. He has a few accomplishments worth noting: 

  • Three All-Star game appearances
  • Two Player of the Month awards
  • Five top 20 finishes in the MVP voting. 

He also had a great walk-off playoff home run against the Baltimore Orioles. While he’s never won an MVP, Encarnacion has quietly produced what may become a Hall of Fame-worthy career. 

Edwin Encarnacion’s power numbers since 2012

Encarnacion’s time in the spotlight came a few years into his career. While he was regarded as a fine hitter prior to 2012, that was his true breakthrough season. Check out his home run numbers from 2012-2019: 

  • 2012: 42
  • 2013: 36
  • 2014: 34
  • 2015: 39
  • 2016: 42
  • 2017: 38
  • 2018: 32
  • 2019: 24 

To put that in perspective, from 2007-2011 Encarnacion hit only 117 home runs total with a career-high at that point of 26. He’s eclipsed that every single year since 2012 and is likely to do it this season as well. It’s pretty clear that he’s had a mid-career renaissance. 

And his home run total of 24 this year? It leads the league. Baseball hasn’t even seen its All-Star Break yet. 

What is his place on the active home run leader list?

Encarnacion’s 404 home runs put him at third on the active leader list, behind only Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera. 

That means he’s also ahead of some potentially Hall of Fame-caliber players as well. He finds himself ahead of Nelson Cruz, Curtis Granderson, Ryan Braun, Robinson Cano, Giancarlo Stanton, and several other great players. That’s some great company to be in and it emphasizes how good of a hitter Encarnacion is.

Why Edwin Encarnacion’s trade to the Yankees may lead to his best season yet

Encarnacion left a hapless Mariners team to join the first-place New York Yankees. Sadly, he’s only been to the postseason four times in his long career, but based on the Yankees’ recent success it seems he’ll likely get a chance at a fifth attempt. They’re currently in first place, ahead of Tampa Bay. 

The Yankees lineup is stacked this season. DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, and others all have the ability to get on base consistently. Plus, having a lineup full of good hitters increases the likelihood that Encarnacion will see pitches to hit. Now, teams won’t be able to pitch around him. 

Yankee Stadium is also a famously good hitter’s ballpark. ESPN ranked it as the tenth most favorable ballpark for hitters.  

With his power numbers looking unlikely to slow down any time soon, a great lineup around him, and a great ballpark to hit in, Edwin Encarnacion may be on his way to his best season yet.