It's time to welcome yet another member to the We Talk Fantasy Sports family. This time we welcome Jeff Rosenberg, @Jewish_Jeff. Jeff is currently contributing to our good friend Hecman Hoops site, and will branch into the MLB here and write some great baseball post for us to enjoy.
In 151 games played in 2012 (career high), the Toronto Blue Jays’ 29 year-old 1B/3B Edwin Encarnacion put up career highs almost across the board. His official 2012 line:
2012: 152 hits with a .280/.384/.557 line, 42 HRs, 110 RBIs, 93 Runs, 13 SBs
A huge breakout for the 29-year old, who ended up finishing 11th in the AL MVP vote in 2012. So, what can we expect in 2013 from the now 30-year old entering his 9th year in the majors? Would you believe me if I said, more of the same?
The Blue Jays expected opening day lineup looks like this:
1. SS Reyes
2. LF Cabrera
3. RF Bautista
4. 1B ENCARNACION
5. 3B Lawrie
6. CF Rasmus
7. C Arencibia
8. DH Lind
9. 2B Bonifacio
So, Encarnacion will be batting cleanup between Bautista and Lawrie (very solid position to be in, might I add, in terms of protection). Encarnacion will also see most of his time at 1B (with the occasional play at DH); certainly a lot more at 1B directly than last year (when he DHed 82 times, played 1B 68 times, 3B once and LF 3 times). Encarnacion produced pretty evenly between 1B and DHing, however, acting as the regular first baseman and not having to wonder where he’ll be at should be more settling for Encarnacion coming into this season. One less thing for Encarnacion (and fantasy owners/Blue Jays fans) to worry about.
Back to the protection aspect. Encarnacion batted 4th in 77 games in 2012 (while batting 3rd 53 games, 5th 19 times and 6th twice), and by far had his best numbers while playing here, with a .302/.404/.590 line, with 22 HRs, 52 Runs, 54 RBIs, 14 2Bs (out of 24), 6 SBs (of his 13) and 41 BBs. While his regular season line was .280/.384/.557, his numbers batting cleanup (specifically, behind the man on the cover of MLB13 in Canada), it’s great news yet again to hear that he’ll be starting the year off batting in the best possible spot for him to produce in, right behind Joey Bats. Even better for Encarnacion, are the arrivals of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera, slated to bat 1st and 2nd for the Jays in ’13. Cabrera brings a career .338 OBP (.390 last year for SF), while Reyes brings his career .342 OBP (.347 last year for MIA). Both guys can steal bags (Reyes had his typical 40 last season, while Cabrera notched 13 in 112 games), and will get on base. With Bautista hitting next (and a likely candidate to be atop the MLB in IBB in ’13), Encarnacion should have himself quite the opportunity to top his 2012 RBI total of 110 (which was a career high).
With the above in mind, you may ask, “Can Encarnacion produce with men on?” A fair question, I’d say, as we look for Encarnacion to be play a major role in the Jays offense in 2013 (that is, cleaning up Reyes/Melky/Bautista). Looking at Encarnacion’s “Bases Occupied” table from baseball-reference.com for 2012; just looking simply at “Men On”, Encarnacion produced the following:
280 Plate Appearances yielded .305/.414/.642 with 23 HRs and 91 RBIs. That’s not a typo, that’s a .642 Slugging. The average and OBP are not bad either.
To further add to the value above, the numbers climb yet again with RISP.
In short, Edwin Encarnacion has the best possible situation he could ask for, coming into 2013. With Adam Lind likely only filling in for Encarnacion at 1B when Edwin needs a rest (which is not too often), Encarnacion will be the Jays everday first baseman, batting behind Jose Bautista hitting cleanup (with Reyes/Cabrera 1/2), and Brett Lawrie entering his 2nd full season in the majors also seeking continued improvement. This Jays offense for 2013 has the potential to be the best 1-5 (possibly 6 depending on how Rasmus shapes out) in the Majors; Edwin Encarnacion will be right in the middle of the production.
My projection for Encarnacion in 2013:
.285/.395/.605 with 38 HRs, 130 RBIs, 105 Runs, 10 SBs