The name represents a quandary, a double edged sword. At the exact same time I have high hopes for him (30+ HR) yet always expect the worst. Every year, even when he was with the Reds, he existed in a dual world, stuck between hope for the future and disappointment for the present.
Every Jays fan is aware of his struggles defensively. He wasn’t very good last year (18 errors) and he hasn’t been very good this year (4 errors already). But because the power and hitting potential are still there, the man affectionately known as E5 always seems to find his way into the lineup.
And as much as it shocks me (and will shock my friends), I fully support him being in the lineup.
But here’s the rub – I don’t want him anywhere near third base.
And believe it or not it has nothing to do with his fielding.
Yes his defensive ability is below average and yes his throwing accuracy can be terrifying for fans sitting behind first base. But to me, he doesn’t look as bad as in previous seasons. Maybe it’s the weight loss. Maybe it’s practice. Who knows. The bottom line is that I can live with his fielding.
What I can’t live with is his batting as a third baseman.
I know it sounds strange, and I know I only have a very small sample size to back me up, but hear me out.
So far this season, Edwin Encarnacion hits like garbage on days when he starts at 3B. Take a look:
As a 3B: 3 for 19, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 Strikeouts: 0 Walks, .158 AVG, .150 OBP, .308 OPS
As DH/1B: 8 for 22, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 1 Strikeout: 1 Walk, .364 AVG, .391 OBP, .891 OPS
As I said, it is a very small sample size. But I think we can learn something from it.
In university, I was terrified of giving presentations. I was the guy who stood in front of the class and looked like an idiot – arms and legs shaking, voice quivering, trying to speak but stammering and slurring my words as my mouth moved too fast for my brain. What was worse though, was that when I knew I had a presentation coming up, it consumed me. All I did was worry. For days and days I worried about what lay ahead, nerves getting worse and worse.
It got to the point where the self-doubt impacted other areas. I fell behind on reading for other courses because I couldn’t focus on the words. I fell behind on papers and essays because my mind kept wandering back to the fear of presenting.
However – after the presentation was done, after I stumbled and bumbled my way through it, there was relief. With the worries gone, I could focus on other things.
I can find similarities with EE, and the stats seem to back it up. Let’s be honest: he looked awful at the beginning of the season. You have to wonder if the pressure and negativity surrounding his defensive play at 3B seeped into his performance at the plate. He is a professional athlete and is paid to perform under those pressures, but he is also human.
Fast forward to the Seattle series, and he was transformed. He looked comfortable at the plate. He was crushing the ball, missing home runs by inches. He was smiling. Why? It could have been luck, just another good series for a very streaky player. But it also could have been the fact that he wasn’t playing 3B. He wasn’t thinking about how to get his
footwork in order, about the release point of his throw to first, or about the error he made the inning before. He was only thinking about his at-bat.
So keep him in the lineup. Let him play first and DH. Reap the rewards.
And I swear – this is the last time I will every try to defend him. Prove me right Edwin.