Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
While everyone is talking about the status of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, let’s take a look and review his 2016 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Like with Jose Bautista, Toronto was the place where Edwin found his swing and his status as an MLB star. Like with Jose Bautista, it took a few false starts at the major league level for Edwin but eventually, after getting traded from Cincinnati, selected off waivers by Oakland, released by the A’s and re-signed by Toronto, he made a big splash in 2012, setting a career-high of 42 home runs.
That was when Eddie came into his power, posting a slugging percentage over .500 and not letting it fall below .529 since. While Edwin tied his career high with another 42 home runs in 2016, it certainly wasn’t his best year, statistically speaking (that would have been 2012). Still, Edwin was selected to his third All-Star game, tied for the lead in the American League with 127 RBI, scored 99 times and hit .263/.357/.529 with a career-high 87 walks. On the down side, Edwin struck out far more than he ever has, racking up 138 Ks (but that figure was still below 20% of his plate appearances). That came from Edwin playing in 160 games, also a career high.
Edwin has become a decent fielder, playing a little fewer than half his games at first base and was about average in the field. Edwin was fairly consistent but had a slow start, hitting for a .694 OPS in April and .817 in May. He heated up in June, slamming 11 home runs and hitting .308/.448/.736 after settling in for a typically Eddie-like July and August. He did revert back a little bit in .255/.354/.464 in September. All that contributed to a 3.9 fWAR for Eddie (down from a career-high 4.5 in 2015), an outstanding bargain for his $10 million salary.
The playoffs started on a high note for Edwin as he hit the walkoff home run to put the nail in the coffin of the Baltimore Orioles’ season in the bottom of the 11th in the Wild Card game. Eddie was dominant against Texas in the Division Series, hitting .417/.500/.917 with two home runs and four RBI but his bat was smothered by the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, hitting .211/.250/.263.
Edwin is a free agent.
Edwin Encarnacion led the Blue Jays this year with 42 home runs. Even though he didn’t hit his first until midway through April (and then his second in the same game), he picked up from there, smashing seven homers in May, eleven in June, seven in July and eight and six in August and September, respectively. One such home run was responsible for a tenth-inning walkoff of the Orioles on June 10th. That was the first of a six-game stretch in which he would hit six dingers.
Edwin had a 16-game on-base streak in July, and another at the end of July and into August. He played in a career-high 160 games, despite battling a finger injury earlier in the season. His average was .263 for the season, and he was fairly consistent from month to month – with a higher .308 for June and a .284 for July. In September, he was part of another walkoff when he drove home Kevin Pillar with a bases-loaded single to cap off a ninth-inning comeback against the Yankees. He led all of MLB in RBI for nearly the entire year, only for David Ortiz to tie him on the very last day of the season. Both sluggers finished the year with 127.
His OPS on the season was .886, with his entire slash line being down from 2015, but still near or above his career numbers. However, his strikeout rate was also much higher than usual, at 19.7%. His walk rate was nearly unchanged, 12.4% being just a 0.1% jump from the year before.
In an unexpected move made necessary by Justin Smoak‘s offensive slump, EE played 75 games at first base this season. Logging 636.1 innings at the position, he made quite a few great scoops on balls in the dirt and made just two errors, resulting in a .997 fielding percentage. He helped turn 57 double plays, including two of the 3-5-3 variety which he turned with Josh Donaldson in the same series.
In the final season of his contract, Edwin’s signature moment with the Blue Jays arrived in the 11th inning of the AL Wild Card game against the Baltimore Orioles. Coming up with one out and two (Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson) on base, Encarnacion hit a three-run homer off Ubaldo Jimenez that sent the Jays to the ALDS.
He homered in Games 2 and 3 of the division series, with ten hits over 35 AB in the postseason for an average of .286. He was hitless in three of the five championship series games, but had two RBI in Game 4 and nine total in the postseason.
Regular Season Grades
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