Stop me if you've heard this one before: A seemingly unremarkable major leaguer, cast off by other clubs, is enjoying an out-of-his mind power year at age 29 in Toronto. Edwin Encarnacion's slugging exploits this season might not be on par with Jose Bautista's. But the once-reviled "E5," who entered 2012 with a career .453 slugging percentage and a homer every 23 at-bats, is ripping pitchers for a .565 slugging percentage at a big fly every 13 at-bats. That power has earned Encarnacion a three-year, $27 million contract extension with a $10 club option for the 2016 season.
The biggest difference for Encarnacion in 2012 is his slugging on outer-half pitches. Check out his slugging percentage by pitch location in 2011, and then this year:
Encarnacion slugged .425 against outer-half pitches in 2011, not far from the .413 MLB average for qualified batters. This year, though? He's slugging .598, which ranks fourth among all hitters:
Highest slugging percentage vs. outer-half pitches, 2012
Encarnacion likely hasn't suddenly morphed into one of the game's premier power hitters (ZiPS projects he'll slug .491 during the second half), but the contract hammered out by Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos doesn't value EE as such. If Encarnacion retains some of his slugging gains and the damage done by his iron glove is limited, this should end up being a deal neither side regrets.