Yesterday we learned of the possibility that Yunel Escobar might not be very awesome. I’m staying out of this on this blog, but you can read some great things on the above linked post as well as here, here, and here.
Instead of throwing my own piece into the fray (mine would assuredly be less polished and significantly less timely, now), I am going to talk about someone who is unequivocally and undeniably awesome: Edwin Elpidio Encarnación.
He is worth 4.4 WAR this year per Baseball-Reference, 4.1 by FanGraphs. He’s posted a career-high OPS of .947 in 2012. Prior to this season, the most home runs he had hit in a year was 26; this year, with sixteen games left to go, he is tied for second on the home run leaderboard with 40.
40 home runs, 14 more than he has ever hit in a season. They have come in twelve different parks, ten in the American League and two in the National. Just 17 were on the road, while 23 came in front of a home crowd in the concrete confines. 18 were day starts versus 22 at night.
The only AL team that has not surrendered a long ball to Encarnacion this season is the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles, Rays, and Mariners have all given up five each, followed by Boston and Texas at 4, Oakland and Detroit at 3, New York and Cleveland with two, and one each off Kansas City, Minnesota, and Chicago. On the interleague road trip, the Brewers were unfortunate enough to watch him send three balls over the fence, and the Marlins tacked one on for good measure. One of those at Miller Park was when the Blue Jays went back-to-back-to-back … those were the days.
Three pitchers have had the misfortune of having surrendered home runs to El Fuerte twice this season: Baltimore’s Tommy Hunter, Oakland’s Tommy Milone, and Texas’ Yu Darvish. No one has given up three yet.
22 of the 40 have come with at least one man on base. Of those 22, 11 involved Jose Bautista — even with Bautista’s prolonged absence, 28% of Encarnacion’s homers have driven him in. The next best is Rasmus, with six, and a three-way tie between Johnson, Lawrie, and Thames at two. And one of them was a grand slam!
22 have been hit from the cleanup spot, including a stretch of 20 straight from the 4-hole between May 5th and July 28th. Eleven have come from the 3rd spot, six from the 5th, and just one hitting 6th, which seems criminal.
Encarnacion has hit a homer in every inning, but none in extras. Half were hit in the fourth or sixth (ten each), five in the third, four in the eighth. Just one came in the fifth — off Jeremy Accardo, ahead 10-4 with the bases empty.
Twelve of Edwin’s home runs have broken a tie, and five of those were 0-0 — in other words, Encarnacion opened the scoring with a bang. Of those ties, the Jays ended up winning seven. He has one two-homer game, too: July 14th against Cleveland. (The Jays won that one.)
19 have come with two strikes - nearly half! - and ten were on a 1-2 count. In case you’re super interested, this is the full breakdown:
As a righty, Edwin crushes baseballs overwhelmingly to left field (13) or left-centre (21), but he has four to straightaway centre field, and one each to centre-right and right field, just for laughs.
The greatest WPA of all of them: 0.343, hit in top of the 9th in Marlins Park off of Steve Cishek. It broke a 1-1 tie and began a six-run inning for the Blue Jays (including Colby Rasmus’ grand slam), leading them to a final score of 7-1 over Miami. That one was pretty glorious.
At the time of this writing, Encarnacion sits tied for second with Ryan Braun, two long drives behind Josh Hamilton. If Jose Bautista can’t win the title for the third straight year, it sure would be nice to keep it in Toronto. Hope Yankee Stadium treats you well, Eddie — it’s been a blast, pardon the pun, so far.