Fantasy Baseball 2013 Spotlight: Edwin Encarnacion

By Matt Schumacher
USA Today Sports

When the dust had settled on the 2012 fantasy baseball season, a new face topped the rankings for first baseman. It wasn’t Albert Pujols as it had been so many years before. It wasn’t Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, or Prince Fielder either. No, fantasy baseball’s number one first baseman in 2012 wasn’t any of those all-stars.

It was Edwin Encarnacion.

Two years after his power slugging teammate Jose Bautista firmly set himself among the best power hitters in the game today, Encarnacion did the same in 2012.

At 29-years-old, the Toronto Blue Jays first baseman smacked 42 home runs in 542 at bats last season, knocking in 110 runs while stealing 13 bases and hitting for a solid .280 average. That’s more home runs, RBI, runs scored, and stolen bases than both Pujols and Fielder managed in 2012, and Encarnacion’s average wasn’t all that far behind those two either.

It’s hard to say with absolute certainty that Encarnacion will repeat his performance in 2013, though.

At 30-years-old, his 2012 looks like a glaring anomaly on a stat sheet. His previous career best in long balls was 26 and he set that in 2008. The last time he even approached his 2012 numbers was back in 2006 and 2007 and I use the term ‘approached’ loosely at best.

Regardless, Encarnacion has all of the tools to be a solid first base option in 2013. His power may rival that of Bautista, having averaged nearly a home run per 20 at bats over his career, and combining that with a solid average, solid speed and a powerful surrounding lineup he could very possibly reach his 2012 marks again this year. It might not be probable, but it is possible.

Ranked in the top 20 on most draft boards, he’s not a sleeper, but he could be a great value at a first base position that’s thinner than usual in 2013.

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