The Toronto Blue Jays have made plenty of headlines in recent offseasons with trades that brought in big name players such as Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey. The moves did not pan out in 2013, as the Blue Jays finished with an underwhelming 74-88 record. They looked to be on the path to another disappointing season through April after compiling a record of 12-15. Fortunately for them, things have picked up in May. A major reason for that has been resurgence of Edwin Encarnacion.
Through April, Encarnacion was slashing .260/.345/.430, very pedestrian numbers for a player who had 36 home runs and a .272 batting average in 2013. His lack of production in the middle of the Blue Jay lineup, coupled with the struggles of other hitters such as Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, was making it hard for the Blue Jays to consistently score.
Since the calendar has turned to May, something has clicked for Encarnacion and he has been hammering the baseball. His batting average and on-base percentage is still only .256 and .323 respectively, but he has turned it up in the power category with a .689 slugging percentage prior to Sunday.
The jump in slugging percentage can be credited to the 12 home runs he has in the month of May, including his blast Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics to help get the Blue Jays their 17th win of the month. The doubles he was hitting in April have been going out of the park in May, as he has four multi-homer games in the month already.
Another reason for the turnaround for Encarnacion is his cut in strikeouts. Through April, he struck out 22 times in 100 at-bats, but has cut that number down to 11 in 93 May at-bats. When you are making more hard contact, more positive things are being done to help your team.
Encarnacion and Jose Bautista form one of, if not the best, power hitting combinations in the middle of a lineup in the MLB. The two have combined for 26 of the MLB team lead of 70 on the season. Imagine where that number would be if Encarnacion had been hitting for power like he is capable of throughout the month of April?
With Encarnacion again finding his power stroke, the Blue Jays have gotten back on track. With their victory Sunday over the Athletics, the Blue Jays now sport a May record of 17-7. They now find themselves sitting atop of the AL East with a 2.5 game lead, after starting the month behind 2.5 games. As long as Encarnacion continues slugging in the middle of their order, they will have one of the most potent lineups in the majors. This is the Blue Jays team many people were expecting to see last season, but have not shown up until now; better late than never.