Monday, April 23, 2012

Edwin Encarnacion: Heart & Soul of the Offence

The name "Encarnacion" literally translates from Spanish to "incarnation". So, if my Babelfish is correctly lodged in my ear, Edwin Encarnacion is "the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form". 

OK, a bit of a stretch, I know, but still, it drives my point home: through the first 15 games of the season (small sample size alert!), EE has been the Jays' best hitter.

He leads the team in nearly every major statistical category, even stolen bases (3). His 13 RBI puts him among the AL leaders, He hits cleanup against lefties, and probably should be against righties too; he's hitting .341 against them so far.

Unlike the usual "I felt great in spring" bullhonky , a few things have changed for Edwin. His swing is shorter and two-handed, as opposed to the long one of past years where his left hand would fly off on the followthrough. He also eliminated the high leg kick and lost some weight.

And his much-maligned defence has been a non-factor; other than three games at first, E5 has been on DH duty.

What's most surprising - and a sign that this might be for real - is that EE doesn't usually get going until after the All-Star Break. Encarnacion was hitting a paltry .209 / .333 / .374 when he was traded to Toronto in July of 2009, and EE's 1st half splits as a Jay the following two years were...not the best:

2011 - .255 / .283 / .405
2010 - .221 / .304 / .463

His current .323 / .368 / .613 line is likely unsustainable for a whole season, but it's nice to have a presence in the middle of the lineup that isn't a complete muppet (see Lind, Adam).

It wasn't long ago that EE was dubbed one of the worst players in baseball, so as Dean Pritchard might say, it's been quite a journey.

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