The Toronto Blue Jays just wrapped up consecutive series sweeps of the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. Tonight, their win streak grew to eight games after downing another AL East foe, the Tampa Bay Rays, in the second game of their three-game set. Toronto currently sits atop the division at 31-22.
Mark Buehrle got the start and was strong, but the Blue Jays are most successful when they hit the ball hard and produce runs. In the month of May, Edwin Encarnacion has embodied driving the ball hard. After a slow April in which he only hit two home runs, Encarnacion has exploded this month, smashing his 14th home run of May off Rays starter Alex Cobb. Entering tonight’s action, Encarnacion has slashed .276/.343/.745 on the month with 26 RBIs.
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz also makes a strong case for AL Player of the Month, currently sitting at 10 home runs and hitting .303. However, his team is not first place in their division, and Cruz has struck out 24 times and walked only eight. Encarnacion has only 11 strikeouts compared to 10 walks.
To give you an idea of how crucial Encarnacion has been been to Toronto’s successes this month and year before tonight’s game, his line is .298-28-13-30-0 in their 30 wins, and only .210-5-2-11-2 in their 22 losses. His May has been incredible, and it’s likely he will finish it off having hit the most home runs while sporting the highest slugging percentage in the entire AL.
The fact that much of his success in the month has come amidst the Blue Jays’ impressive win streak only further establishes his value. Not only should Encarnacion be bestowed with Player of the Month honors for May, but fans and critics need to give him some serious consideration about being the starting first baseman for the 2014 All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field.