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Entries in Edwin Encarnacion (5)

Thursday
Jul122012

Encarnacion Cashes in on 2012 Power Surge

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:

2011

 

2012

 

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

BatterSlugging Pct.
David Ortiz .629
Carlos Gonzalez .610
Andrew McCutchen .602
Edwin Encarnacion .598
Robinson Cano .568
Jason Heyward .567
Shin-Soo Choo .563
Dexter Fowler .550
Carlos Ruiz .546
Josh Hamilton .545

 

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.

Wednesday
Jun272012

My All Star Starters: AL 3B

While voting for the All-Star game ends tomorrow, I will still be producing these articles to discuss who I believe should have the starting nod and who should be on the team. Up tonight is the American League hot corner. This is a position that requires great reflexes coupled with a great arm, and, being a corner infield position, it is expected that this will be a position of hitting strength. All of the men being considered here are exceptional at their position and are all deserving of being in the conversation. Voting numbers can be found here.

#1. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers 3,073,541

Beltre leapt into first place since the last update, leading by almost 400,000 votes, and it has been well deserved. Since Beltre signed a one year deal with the Red Sox in 2010, he has been one of the most consistent third basemen in the game, showcasing unbelievable glovework coupled with an ability to hit for average and power. His power numbers really spiked after a down year in '09 where he only managed to put 8 out of the park. Since then he has gone deep 73 times. Below is a picture of how Beltre has adjusted an begun hitting more pitches for power.

Beltre is well known for his ability to go down on one knee and muscle balls out of the park. If you haven't seen it before, here is a link to see one from his Red Sox days. 

Beltre is not without fault though, as he sports a much higher groundball rate versus left handed pitching than righties, which has hurt his average versus southpaws.

Left (versus Righties) - Right (versus Lefties)This has not been too much of a problem, but if he can increase his flyball rate versus lefties, especially on the outside part of the zone, he may find that his average could increase even further. Now on to the stats.

71 G, 274 AB, 42 R, 90 H, 17 2b, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB, 16 BB, 34 SO, .328 AVG, .361 OBP, .533 SLG

Beltre could also afford to be a little more patient and draw some walks to boost the on-base percentage, but if he continues to get hits when he puts the ball in play, I can't really blame him for being a free swinger. Beltre continues to be an all-star on the offensive and defensive side of the ball, and I wholeheartedly believe that he should have a place on that team when all is said and done.

 

#2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers 2,692,047 

Something has to be said for Cabrera's durability after the move back to third. He has played in 74 games, even after taking a hard hopper to the eye in spring training, which happened to leave a nice battle scar. The move back to third also hasn't hurt his ability to rake. Cabrera is one of those unique hitters that has power to all fields, and he is showcasing that this season. He has hit seven home runs to left, four to center, and four to right field, totaling up to fifteen big flies. Below is a chart of the spread of his hits throughout the season.

Cabrera has taken advantage of pitches left up in the zone and driven the ball all over ballparks, including a mammoth 514 ft Home Run to left field off of Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox. Cabrera has also managed to get hits off the hard stuff, averaging .350 against pitches with a velocity of at least 91 mph. If the velocity drops down below that, he tapers off, hitting only .273.

 

As long as pitchers continue to throw him the hard stuff, Cabrera will remain an all-star caliber hitter. Lets look at his stats.

74 G, 299 AB, 43 R, 91 H, 22 2b, 15 HR, 59 RBI, 3 SB, 26 BB, 46 SO, .304 AVG, .363 OBP, .528 SLG

Cabrera has Beltre beat in overall power numbers, but that could be a 25 at bat factor that has allowed the Tigers' third basemen more opportunity to hit the long ball. Cabrera is mashing the ball this season, but I do not believe that he should be considered the started over Beltre.

 

#3. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees 1,748,534

Compared to the first two guys on this list, the rest have been underwhelming. ARod hasn't been awful, but he also hasn't been able to live up to the performance of Cabrera and Beltre. Strangely enough, ARod has seen a concentration of pitches located dead in the strike zone, but he hasn't been able to capitalize to boost his average. 

ARod has been excellent in one strike counts this season, with an ISO rate of .323.

 

71 G, 264 AB, 40 R, 70 H, 6 2b, 13 HR, 34 RBI, 6 SB, 32 BB, 63 SO, .265 AVG, .355 OBP, .436 SLG

Comparing his stats to the vote leaders, he is matching them well in the HR numbers, but he lacks in the total extra base hit department. He is drawing walks at a higher rate, which has put his OBP in the same range, but the SLG is down 100 points. ARod has had an amazing career, but this is not an all star year for the third baseman.

 

#4. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays 1,688,509

Before a major injury sidelined his season before the thirty game mark, Longo was on pace to be better than any third baseman in the league. He had drawn one less walk in that time than Beltre has all season and he had more doubles than ARod has compiled. His AVG, OBP, and SLG would be at the top of the list for AL third basemen, but he hasn't played in over a month and probably will not be ready for the all-star game either way. His BABIP was way up, so it is conceivable he may have tailed off a bit. Here is a look at that heat map.

23 G, 82 AB, 15 R,  27 H, 7 2b, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 2 SB, 15 BB, 17 SO, .329 AVG, .433 OBP, .561 SLG

I'm a huge Longoria fan, and I hope he tears it up in the second half.

 

Wild Card: Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

Readers must understand that he is not the everyday third baseman and has played more of a DH role, but I believe he is worthy of consideration here. He has 21 HRs! That ranks him near the top of the league, nevermind among 3rd basemen. Also, his .572 SLG ranks him fifth in the American League. His power numbers versus southpaws has been unreal, with a .371 ISO.

It's almost as if anything in the zone is getting hit for extra bases with this guy. If you don't believe it, look at the numbers:

71 G, 269 PA, 44 R, 77 H, 14 2b, 21 HR, 52 RBI, 6 SB, 28 BB, 53 SO, .286 BA, .361 OBP, .572 SLG

This guy has been revitalized. If he can continue this pace throughout the year, the Blue Jays will have quite a formidable lineup with Encarnacion hitting behind Bautista.

 

Results

1. Adrian Beltre

2. Miguel Cabrera

3. Edwin Encarnacion (due to less starts at 3b)

4. ARod

5. Brett Lawrie (Encarnacion's teammate and starting Blue Jays Third Baseman is having a good year)

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