Everybody is aware that the Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion went all Bautista on us in 2012 as he suddenly became a premier slugger in baseball. Everyone is aware that he hit 42 homers and slugged .557 en route to a .941 OPS. Everybody also wonders if he can repeat those numbers after coming from nowhere to have that kind of season. But there are things that you probably do not know about Encarnacion which may just hint that he is not a fluke.
1. Edwin Encarnación hardly ever hits the ball on the ground. Of all qualifying batters in 2012, only Josh Reddick of the A's had a lower ground ball to fly ball ratio and lower ground ball percentage. Only 33% of Encarnación's batted balls went on the ground for a ground ball to fly ball ratio of 0.67. And since 18.6% of those fly balls went over the fence, that is a good recipe for hitting homers. This is not a fluke as his career ratio is 0.80 and has been under 0.70 in two of his last three seasons.
2. He also has very good plate discipline for a bopper. He only swung at pitches outside the strike zone 24.5% of the time. That is the 25th lowest in baseball. And only 26 other baseball players (qualified for batting title) swung at less of a percentage of pitches than Encarnación who only swung at 41.6 percent of the pitches he saw in 2012. This shows that he has become adept at waiting for something he likes before pulling the trigger. The plate discipline is not a fluke as it was only one percentage point below his career average. The swing percentage was a marked improvement and could be one of the markers of his improved season. His career swing percentage is 46%.
3. For a big guy who hits for power, he does not swing and miss very many pitches. Only 41 qualified batters swung and missed less than Edwin Encarnación's 7.1 swing and miss rate. In other words, he is not just up there hacking. His strikeout percentage was only 14.6%
4. You can't pitch him fast or slow. Encarnación had the fourth highest pitch value against the fastball in 2012. His prowess versus the fastball was 30 wFB. He was also tied for fourth best against the change up. And he was seventh best against the curve. So what DO you throw this guy? Good luck with that.
5. He is a better than average base runner. Not only is it somewhat rare for a slugger to be good on the bases, but he is surprisingly effective at stealing. He doesn't do it a lot, but in 26 attempts over the past two seasons, he has been successful 21 times good for an 80.8% success rate. And that rate exactly matches his career success rate when attempting to steal a base.
6. His 2012 season was as good as it was despite a .266 BABIP. The low BABIP makes some sense since he hits so many fly balls. But still. He hit .286 despite a .266 BABIP. Can you imagine if a few more things dropped in for him? His career BABIP is .280, so he was a bit unlucky in 2012.
There you have it--six things you probably did not know about Edwin Encarnación. Those six things--especially the first five--show at least to this observer that like Bautista before him, Encarnación's season was not a fluke and that he can repeat what he showed us in 2012.