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Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: IS EDWIN ENCARNACION THE LATEST BIG-BODIED SLUGGER TO GET OLD OVERNIGHT

Wow has Edwin Encarnacion been terrible.  If one were to make a list of the biggest fantasy baseball busts of the 2017 season to this point, Encarnacion would be front and center on that list.  Coming off a tremendous power run with the Toronto Blue Jays,. Encarnacion got a free agent deal from the Cleveland Indians as he had a big 2016 (42 homers, 99 RBI) to earn the dough.  Alas Encarnacion has been an utter disaster and goes into Sunday's action with the following numbers that have him benched by many of his owners:

.213
5 HR
12 R
11 RBI
1 SB

Needless to say, Encarnacion is a major liability right now and even more shocking, he is struggling in the month of May which historically is when he goes bonkers with the power.  There is a lot to get to here so let's dig in and find out if this situation can be saved.

First lets talk about the age.  Encarnacion turned 34 in January which, while not old, is getting a bit up there when it comes to athletics.  More concerning in Encarnacion's case is that he has the classic "big body" that historically has seen early declines in offensive numbers.  The thinking here is that big-bodies sluggers suffer more wear and tear and injury problems given the heft they carry around for 162 games and in the case of Encarnacion, we already are talking about a guy who has a long history of getting hurt going back to his early Cincinnati Reds days.  Some recent examples of guys who went through this are Prince Fielder, Carlos Lee, and Ryan Howard.  Each saw their careers go into the tank offensively at or even earlier then Encarnacion and so there is ample evidence of this.

Now as far as the numbers are concerned, there also are red flags here.  While Encarnacion was huge with the power in 2016 by hitting those 42 home runs, his average sank to a mediocre .263 which was his lowest performance in that category since 2010.  Even more worrisome is that Encarnacion's K/9 was rising going into and through 2016 as he went up to 19.7.  This season in that area?  Try a pathetic 28.3.  Encarnacion is showing a struggle to catch up to the fastball and is late on a lot of pitches this season.  The K/9 rate bears this out and is a major problem for Encarnacion.  While some will say he is adjusting to a new locale, this is not entirely accurate as Encarnacion stayed in the American League and has a clear book on most of their pitchers.  Yes Rogers Center is a launching pad but Encarnacion has natural power that plays well in any location.  Finally, Encarnacion's .280 BABIP is a bit unlucky but it is his BEST mark there since 2011 which speaks to how bad he is swinging the bat.

When you put it all together, Edwin Encarnacion has been a joke so far and he has to be benched until he pulls out of his slump.  Given all the evidence I presented above, that may not even happen.


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