The Enigma of Edwin Encarnacion

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

Over the past year or so, he’s affectionately become known as “EE”. But you might want to add another E to that moniker, because frankly … Edwin Encarnacion is quite the enigma.

There was nearly a mutiny when he spent several games at the hot corner last season, but that was merely a band-aid solution. I don’t think John Farrell anticipated having Edwin start so many games at third, but he really didn’t have any other options.

Last season, Alex Anthopoulos beamed about how Edwin Encarnacion was going to have a stellar season in 2011, and in some ways he did.


That two month stretch from June to August was phenomenal for Edwin, as he hit .297, got on base at a .375 clip and knocked in 21 doubles and hit 14 home runs. Most players would be ecstatic to put up those numbers in a season, let alone a two month period.

Along with the highs comes the lows, and Edwin Encarnacion has his fair share of lows as well. I think the quintessential word to describe EE is “streaky”. At times he’s flashed moments of brilliance, and then there are others where he committed two errors in a single game.

Or how about the fact that Edwin didn’t hit his first home run of the 2011 season until May 29th; a mere 141 at bats into the season.

I think part of the reason why AA is placing so much stock in EE is that perhaps be believes Edwin is going to be the next Jose Bautista. A player that is just on the cusp of becoming a superstar, but just needs the opportunity to show that potential.

Now that EE can focus solely on the offensive aspect of his game by DH’ing, maybe that lofty prediction initially set by Alex Anthopoulos can finally come to fruition.

I would love to see Edwin Encarnacion have a breakout year, but what happens beyond 2012? He’s  currently on an option year, and at 29 years old, he could certainly hold down the fort as the Blue Jays DH for the next few seasons.

The problem here is I feel like we have this conversation every year with Edwin Encarnacion. He has worlds of talent, he just needs to needs to harness it. I don’t doubt that that’s true, but I’m not sure the Blue Jays have the liberty to sit around year after year and wait for EE to have a career year.

On the other hand, what harm could Edwin Encarnacion pose to the Blue Jays roster? It’s not like he’s taking up his old post at the hot corner, and subbing the odd game at first for Adam Lind might not be the worst thing in the world.

The fact that Encarnacion has received some work in left field is just further proof that the Blue Jays want to keep his bat in the lineup. The club must truly value EE’s offense if they’re willing to explore the avenue of having him in the outfield.


I guess what I’m trying to say is Edwin Encarnacion’s spot on the roster is safe … for the immediate future, at least. He really isn’t taking any at bats away from anyone else of superior skill at the moment.

However, the minute someone with a little more offensive upside and defensive flexibility starts knocking on the door, then I think the Blue Jays will need to reevaluate where they stand with Edwin Encarnacion.

Sure, we could keep hoping and keep waiting for Edwin Encarnacion to have that breakout season. It could very well come with the Toronto Blue Jays, it could come with another team, or it might not even happen at all.

The thing about enigmas is you eventually have to decide whether you want to keep traveling further down the rabbit hole no matter what, or whether you just want to cut your losses and just head back to the surface.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

13 thoughts on “The Enigma of Edwin Encarnacion

  • March 9, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I like Edwin to have a good year this year. I think (and his splits last season show) that when he is strictly an offensive player (playing first or DH) he is a much better hitter than when he is playing third and worrying about making that throw. I'm hoping he'll be the DH and platoon first basemen all year, and would LOVE it if he could smack 25 to 30 out. The potential is there, here's hoping for a big year out of him.

    • March 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

      Rob, I thought 2011 would finally be the year where he would finally break out. I figured it was just injuries that were holding him back, but he was healthy all of last years and still had a streaky season. Let's hope it all comes together in 2012!

    • March 9, 2012 at 7:50 pm

      ".289/.370/.491 with 12 home runs, 19 doubles, and 40 RBI in just over 300 plate appearances". (from Fangraphs)

      This is roughly when he was no longer playing 3B everyday. I'll take that from my DH. He's probably not a 30 HR contender, but 25 dingers with good OBP (presumably with Lawrie and Rasmus behind him) I think E5 will have a good year for us.

    • March 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

      Yes, his splits last year were great:

      ~ During the 2011 season, in 122 at bats while playing third, Edwin batted just .213 with 3 HR. However, he batted .305 in 82 at bats when playing first, and .296 in 267 at bats when he was in at DH with a total of 14 HR at the two positions. Edwin has also brought his batting average up from from .225 in 2009, and .240 in 2010 to .272 in 2011. ~

      Here's hoping for a bigger, better 2012.

  • March 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Love to see EE play. Don't care what anyone says, that man is a dark horse enigma and he should not be underestimated.

    • March 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Mary-Beth, Edwin certainly has the power and tonnes of potential, but he just needs to be consistent.

  • March 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Must be a typo in your "June to August" home run total… he only hit 17 total last year.

    • March 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      Good eye, thanks! Not sure where I got the 24 home runs from … maybe wishful thinking?

  • March 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    I believe in Edwin Encarnacion. He's got that 40 home run power.

    In all seriousness, post-all star game last year, Edwin put up a .382 OBP. That's phenomenal. That's what matters. That's what he needs to keep up this season.

    • March 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Nav, if the second half Edwin can stick around all year, he just might be the protection that Bautista needs in the lineup.

  • March 9, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Don't get cocky, Morris. I've got my eye on you.

  • March 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Another problem with EE is he never hits much in April or May. From June on he's a solid hitter but he's a slow starter, check out his career monthly splits.


    ps how do we sign in here through twitter?

    • March 10, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Wow, Edwin's career monthly splits are all over the map. For whatever reason, July and August are great months for EE.

      As of yet, I don't think there's a way to sign in via Twitter. I'll look into it though – thanks!

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