Edwin Encarnación

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Edwin Elpidio Encarnación

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Biographical Information[edit]

Edwin Encarnacion was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 9th round of the 2000 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Sammy Melendez and made his pro debut that summer for the GCL Rangers. Barely a year later, on June 15, 2001, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with OF Ruben Mateo in return for P Rob Bell. He made his major league debut with the Reds in 2005.

Encarnacion was the cleanup hitter for the Águilas Cibaeñas in the 2008 Caribbean Series. He hit .286/.444/.476 but was the only member of the Águilas infield who did not make the Series All-Star team.

Edwin had a breakout season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, during which he hit 42 homers and drove in 110 runs. He was then named the starting first baseman and cleanup hitter for the Dominican Republic national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He hit .250 with 6 RBI and was named to the all-tournament team as the Dominican Republic won all eight of the games it played to conquer the title. He had the big hit in the finale, a two-run double off Giancarlo Alvarado in the 1st. He continued to show outstanding power during the 2013 season and as a result was named to the All-Star team for the first time. On July 26th, he hit two home runs in one inning in a game against the Houston Astros, part of an 8-run outburst by the Jays in the 7th inning of a 12-6 win. The Jays were trailing 6-4 going into the frame, but he led off the inning with a solo homer off Paul Clemens, then added a grand slam against Hector Ambriz to top off the scoring when he came back to the plate later in the frame. He was the first Blue Jays player to homer twice in an inning since Joe Carter on October 3, 1993. He finished the season with 36 homers and 104 RBIs, while batting .272, scoring 90 runs and added 29 doubles for the year.

On May 8, 2014, he hit the 200th homer of his career against A.J. Burnett of the Philadelphia Phillies part of a two-homer night in a 12-6 win. He had back-to-back two-homer games on May 20-21, both times leading the Jays to wins over the Boston Red Sox. He was leading the American League with 28 extra-base hits at that point. The two games gave him four multiple homer games in the month, the first Blue Jay to to do so. On May 27th, he hit his 14th homer of the month, tying a club record held by Jose Bautista, a mark he would shatter within a couple of days. His power surge coincided with a great streak by the Blue Jays, who won 13 of 15 games to go from playing below .500 to taking a three-game lead atop the AL East. By hitting his 16th homer of the month with another two-homer game on May 29th, he tied Mickey Mantle's American League record for most homers in May, one shy of Barry Bonds's major league mark. he was also only the third player in major league history to have five multiple-homer games in one month, following Harmon Killebrew in May of 1959 and Albert Belle in September of 1995. He did not hit any other long balls in May, but started off June with a bang, connecting for a two-run shot off Aaron Crow in a 4-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on June 1st. To no one's surprise, he was named the AL's Player of the Month for May. On June 20th, he had another great game, launching a three-run homer off Mat Latos of the Reds in the 3rd inning, when the Jays were trailing, 8-0; the Jays kept putting runs on the scoreboard, and in the 9th, he added another three-run shot, off Sam LeCure, to cap an incredible 14-9 win. On July 6th, he was named to the AL All-Star team for the second time, but on the same day an MRI revealed a strain in his right quadriceps, meaning he would need to skip the game itself in order to heal properly. Because of the injury, he ended up playing only 128 games, hitting .268 with 34 homers and 98 RBIs. His absence from the line-up for an extended period was a key factor in the Blue Jays fading away from the postseason race in the second half.

Encarnacion was back healthy in 2015, while the Blue Jays were more determined than ever to break their playoff drought. He started the season slowly, however, hitting only .205 with 4 homers in April. In May, he was still having trouble hitting for average, at .225, but did his share of damage with 8 homers, 19 runs and 22 RBIs as the Jay's offense began to emerge as the best in the majors, paced by new acquisition 3B Josh Donaldson and mainstays Bautista and Encarnacion. His slow start meant that the did not make the All-Star team that season, but he got really hot in August, when the Jays surged to first place in the AL East standings. Starting in the last days of July, he put together a long hitting streak, during which he also mashed his share of extra-base hits. On August 26th, the streak reached 21 games when he hit a grand slam off Spencer Patton of the Texas Rangers in a 12-4 win. On August 29th, he extended the hitting streak to 24 games - longest in the AL since 2012 - with a three-homer game against the Detroit Tigers. One of the homers was a grand slam off Alex Wilson, his third of the year, and he collected 9 RBIs tying a team record dating back to the Jays' inaugural season, 1977, with Roy Howell the record holder. The Jays won that game as well, 15-1. He made it 25 games by hitting another homer in a 9-2 win over the Tigers the next day. His 35 RBIs in August set a club record for most in a month. To no one's surprise, he was named the AL Player of the Month for August; on top of all the RBIs, he hit .407 with 11 doubles and as many homers. His hitting streak ended after 26 games when he went 0 for 2 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in a 5-3 win over the Cleveland Indians on September 1st. He ended the season with 39 homers and 111 RBIs, falling just short of giving the Blue Jays a trio of 40-homer men. He hit .277 and scored 94 runs, ending up with an OPS+ of 153 as the Jays did make the postseason for the first time in two decades. He hit .333 with a double and a homer as Toronto defeated the Texas Rangers in the ALDS but only .227 when they lost to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. He failed to receive any distinctions after the season, however, as Kendrys Morales of the Royals won the Silver Slugger Award as the league's top DH and he finished 12th in the MVP vote, well behind teammate Josh Donaldson.

On June 10, 2016, Encarnacion hit a walk-off homer off Brad Brach of the Orioles in the 10th inning to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 win. It was also the 600th RBI as a member of the Blue Jays for Encarnacion, making him the fourth player in team history to reach that milestone. His five walk-off blasts were the team record. He followed that the next day by hitting a pair of homers and a double and driving in 5 runs to lead the Jays to an 11-6 win over the Orioles - even though the O's pitched around him and also walked him twice in the game. On August 16th, he went 2-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs in a 12-6 win over the Yankees to become the first major league player to reach 100 RBIs that season. He had earlier been named to play in his third All-Star Game; his homer also tied him with Mark Trumbo for the major league lead at 34. He finished the year with 42 homers, third in the AL, while his 127 RBIs were tied for first with David Ortiz. He also batted .263 with 87 walks and scored 99 runs in what was another outstanding season with the bat. In the field, he split his time almost evenly between first base and DH. In the Wild Card Game against the Orioles on October 4th, he hit a three-run walk-off homer against Ubaldo Jimenez in the 11th inning to give Toronto a 5-2 win. He then went 5 for 12 with 2 homers in the Division Series against Texas to help lead the Jays to a three-game sweep. However, in the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians, he was less effective, being limited to 4 for 19, with a double as his only extra-base hit. He became a free agent after the season and it was clear that Toronto would not be able to re-sign him, especially after they inked Kendrys Morales in early November to be their new DH. While rumors had Encarnacion possibly headed to Boston to replace the retired Ortiz, it was actually the Cleveland Indians that signed him. On December 22nd, news came out that he had agreed to a three-year contract worth $60 million, with an option for a fourth year at $25 million. He was expected to replace Mike Napoli with the Indians, alternating between 1B and DH with Carlos Santana.

Edwin got off to a great start for his new team as on opening day, April 3, 2017 he hit an 8th-inning game tying homer off Matt Bush of the Rangers and Cleveland eventually won the game, 8-5. However, he hit only .200 in April, with 4 homers and 9 RBIs. He hit better in May then got really hit in June when he hit .322 with 7 homers and 20 RBIs. He had 18 homers at the All-Star break, and the Indians were back leading the AL Central after falling back in the first few weeks. On July 25th, he connected for a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning off Bud Norris of the Los Angeles Angels to give Cleveland an 11-7 win. It was the Indians' second grand slam of the game, rookie Bradley Zimmer having hit one in the 2nd as well. The homer also pushed Edwin past the 1,000 career mark for RBIs. He ended the season at .258 with 38 homers and 107 RBIs in 157 games, also drawing over 100 walks for the first time with 104. However, he was shut out in the postseason, as he injured his ankle in Game 2 of the ALDS while unsuccessfully trying to avoid being doubled off second base on a line drive. As a result, he went 0 for 7 with a run on a walk, and his absence was undoubtedly a factor in the Indians being upset by the New York Yankees in five games.

Encarnacion started the 2018 season on a hot streak as he homered three times in his first four games. The third of these was an unlikely one, as in spite of his lack of speed, he managed to leg out an inside-the-park homer after hitting a high fly ball to the left field corner at Angel Stadium on April 2nd. Los Angeles Angels OF Justin Upton was unable to make the catch, and helplessly watched it take a long bounce to an empty section of the outfield, allowing him to round the bases standing up. On May 2nd, he had the third three-homer game of his career in a 12-4 rout of the Rangers, but his first as an Indian. He was on the disabled list from August 12-22 with contusion on his right hand, then on the day of his return hit a pair of homers in a 10-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He finished the year at .246 with 32 homers and 107 RBIs, but was just 1 for 10 in the Division Series as the Indians bowed out quickly to the Houston Astros. After the season, on December 13th, he was part of a surprising trade, as Cleveland dealt him to the Seattle Mariners in return for former teammate Carlos Santana. With the Mariners in the midst of a fire sale, however, it was likely to be just a temporary landing spot for Edwin.

In spite of all the pessimism surrounding the Mariners in the off-season, they began the 2019 season strong, and Edwin was one of the team's offensive leaders, batting in the middle of the order as the regular DH. On April 8th, he hit two homers in the 6th inning of a 13-5 win over the Kansas City Royals, becoming only the 5th player to have accomplished the feat twice in his career. However, the strong start proved to be a blip for the Mariners, who quickly sank like a stone to the bottom of the standings. Edwin kept on hitting however, and on June 15th, the inevitable happened when he was traded to the New York Yankees in return for P Juan Then. He was leading the American League with 21 homers at the time of the trade and slugging .531 in 65 games. He reached the 30-homer mark for the 8th straight year on July 24th, but then did not hit another long ball until he went on the injured list on August 4th with a fracture in his right wrist. The injury was sapping his power, but he had still collected 11 hits in his last 26 at-bats (.423) before being placed on the IL. He was reactivated on September 3rd and immediately went 2 for 4 with a homer in a 10-1 win over the Rangers. He finished with a combined .244 in 109 games, with 34 homers and 86 RBIs. He went 4 for 13 in the Yankees' sweep of the Minnesota Twins in the Division Series, but just 1 for 18 in their loss to the Houston Astros in the ALCS. He became a free agent after the season, and while there were rumors that the Blue Jays were interested in bringing him back, he eventually signed with the Chicago White Sox on December 25th. It was for $12 million with an option year for the same amount.

In 2023, he assisted the Blue Jays' coaching staff in spring training.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (2013, 2014 & 2016)
  • AL RBI Leader (2016)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 10 (2008, 2010 & 2012-2019)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 8 (2012-2019)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2012 & 2016)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 6 (2012, 2013 & 2015-2018)

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "5 reasons Edwin's big bat is in high demand", mlb.com, November 26, 2016. [1]
  • Anthony Castrovince: "Edwin gives Tribe best chance to win: Adding slugger to strong core shows Cleveland's commitment", mlb.com, December 22, 2016. [2]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Free agency not what Edwin Encarnacion expected, but finds perfect fit with Indians", USA Today Sports, February 20, 2017. [3]
  • Andrew Simon: "Encarnacion an elite late-blooming slugger: Making up for lost time, he is closing in on 400-HR mark", mlb.com, June 9, 2019. [4]

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