Toronto Blue Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion Among League’s Elite First Baseman
Edwin Encarnacion is two years removed from being claimed off waivers and a minor league demotion as a fledgling third baseman with an atrocious glove. Fast forward two years and Encarnacion has resurrected his career and is now one of the premier power bats in the entire major leagues and an above average defender at first base.
Encarnacion always showed flashes of a lethal stick hitting 28 home runs in 2008 as a member of the Cincinnati Reds and 21 big flies in 2010 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. However during that time Encarnacion led the league errors in 2006, 2nd in 2008 and 3rd in 2010. As a member of the Blue Jays his defence was so shoddy he was nicknamed “E5”.
In 2011, the Blue Jays starting using Encarnacion at first base which seemed like a natural fit for Encarnacion looking like an entirely different player on the other side of the diamond.
The 30-year-old product of the Dominican Republic had a breakout season in 2012 smashing 42 home runs in an injury depleted Jays lineup with little protection. Encarnacion set career highs in home runs, runs batted in, hits, runs scored, SLG, OPS and even stolen bases in 2012 enroute to an eleventh place finish in MVP balloting. The first baseman is representing the Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic anointed as the team’s starting first baseman.
Expect the homers to continue to fly out of stadiums near you as Encarnacion will have much more protection around him in 2013 with a healthy Jose Bautista and the new additions added in the off season.
Clayton Richer covers the Toronto Blue Jays for Rant Sports. Follow and interact with him on Twitter at @MLBHotCorner.