Have you ever experienced a moment where the stars all align? Where everything seems to go your way and nothing bothers you? For most of us those moments are few and far between, but I’m pretty sure that Edwin Encarnacion had a permanent “moment” in 2012. All of the issues that had held him back in prior years (e.g., lack of ABs due to health issues, extended cold streaks, a minor league demotion) were in the rear view mirror for “E5” last year. Encarnacion has always been one of those “what if” players for me. What if he could simply just stay healthy for a full year? What if those hot streaks could last just a little bit longer? What kind of numbers could he put up? Those questions were answers loudly and clearly in 2012, as Encarnacion put up one heck of a statistical season:
.280 AVG 152 H 93 R 42 HR 110 RBI 13 SB
Cory Schwartz managed to ride him, along with a solid roster, to a TOUT Wars mixed league title in 2012, and his article “E5: A Love Story” was featured in The Fantasy Baseball Guide 2013. Schwartz (along with many others) has long been an Encarnacion supporter, and was handsomely rewarded last year. But it is possible for him to even come close to repeating those numbers this year? Or should we expect a ton of regression and over-spending? In my estimation, 2012 was probably the peak of his production, but his 2013 campaign should also be very strong, providing he can stay on the field for 525 + plate appearences.
Although I could point to many reasons why I believe that Encarnacion’s 2012 numbers are (mostly) repeatable, two currently stick out in my mind:
- Nothing that he demonstrated in 2012 was a “new” skill to him, other than stealing 10+ bases.
- His 2012 first and second half splits were VERY similar, meaning that he didn’t suddenly flip a switch in September or October. He was consistently good ALL season long.
As I mentioned earlier, “E5” has always had his share of both critics and supporters. After a solid 2008 season in which he hit 26 HRs with 68 RBIs, many wondered if he would be capable of taking that “next step” in his development the following season. Encarnacion struggled mightily under the hype, posting only a .225 AVG with 13 HRs before being demoted back to the minor leagues for a stretch of time. He also started to develop the “injury bug” which ended up costing him 81 days with a fractured wrist and knee soreness. Many wondered if this constant see-sawing back and forth between AAA and the MLB suggested if he was just one of those “quadruple A” players that couldn’t demonstrate consistent success for a multi-year stretch. Encarnacion teased his fantasy owners again in 2010, posting 21 HRs in only 96 games played before missing another 50 days with a sprained wrist and shoulder. Although he bounced back and mostly avoided the DL in 2011, his owners were still left wondering… what if.
Then came 2012.
Finally reaching 500+ ABs for the first time since 2008, Encarnacion silenced all critics in a major way with an outstanding first half of the year. Despite being snubbed as an All-Star selection, he posted a .289 AVG with 22 HRs and 55 RBIs. The second half of the season provided equally impressive statistics as he put up a .271 AVG with 20 HRs and 55 RBIs.
As a fantasy baseball writer, when you attempt to predict regression for a player in an upcoming season, its common to point to a particular statistic that seems out of place, or lucky. I can’t really do that with Encarnacion. Sure, his HR totals were higher than previous years, but he’s put up 23 HRs in three of the past five seasons, including one where he barely accumulated 360 AB. Toronto has a bolstered lineup in 2013 complete with Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera and a healthy Jose Bautista. This should provide plenty of RBI opportunities and runs for him. His batting average was slightly higher than years past, but not terribly out of line. Bottom line? I expect him not to fully repeat his gaudy 2012 numbers, but I don’t predict a severe amount of regression.
In our 2013 draft guide, Mike Gianella penciled E5 for the following projected season:
.261 AVG 34 HR 98 RBI 11 SB
Here’s hoping the stars continue to align for E5.
A veteran fantasy sports player/commissioner for the better part of a decade, I am a contributing writer for several major fantasy websites including FantasyTrade411.com, Rotowire.com and Going9baseball.com. I am always willing to share my advice and opinions on your questions and the latest fantasy news. Feel free to contact me with any sports related inquires on twitter @Roto_Wizard, or by e-mail at RotoWizard01@yahoo.com.