Although the 2012 Toronto Blue Jays were a disaster thanks to the injuries they had to a lot of their core guys, there was one very pleasant surprise. Edwin Encarnacion, better known as E-5 by Jays fans, finally found a position (DH) that he couldn’t mess up. With that mental block put behind him, Encarnacion showed exactly why the Blue Jays didn’t give up on him.
From the start of the season until the end, Encarnacion was probably one of the five most consistent hitters in all of baseball. He set career-highs in virtually every offensive category, most notably with his 42 home runs and 110 RBI. While many fans dismiss the notion that he is that good, I really can’t find any red flags to tell me his 2012 season was a fluke.
As I do with every suspicious/fluky type hitter, I go directly to the batted ball data. I really believe batted ball data – both on offense and pitching – tells us more than any other statistics. The first statistic to look at is BABIP in correlation with LD%. If a player has a high BABIP and a low LD%, it shows that it was a bit of a fluke, which is why I go straight to those two numbers. Encarnacion has a career .280 BABIP and 18.6 LD%. In 2012, however, his BABIP and LD% were actually lower than his career numbers, so the answer to his success isn’t in those numbers. Considering he had a huge jump in home runs, let’s look at his HR/FB ratio.
The HR/FB ratio is good to look at because it shows how many more flyballs left the ballpark compared to years past. This is a figure that would explain Jose Bautista’s power surge. Encarnacion’s HR/FB ratio was about five points higher than his career average, but that makes a lot of sense due to his home run surge.
Unlike a lot of other fluky hitters from the past, his numbers actually check out. There isn’t really anything out there that tells me he is going to struggle and fall back down to earth in 2013. In fact, he will probably be one of the main reasons why the Blue Jays win the AL East.