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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: EDWIN ENCARNACION 1B CLEVELAND INDIANS

No one does a nuclear power month better then Mr. Edwin Encarnacion.  The former Cincinnati Reds and Toronto Blue Jays first base monster had made it his yearly tradition to go completely nuts in the month of May, often hitting 5 home runs in a 7 week to help overcome an annually tough start.  The bottom line by the end of the year would be first round numbers centering on 40-plus home runs, 110-plus RBI, and an  average around .280.  While moving away from Toronto was looked at as a negative in terms of numbers given the power tendencies of Rogers Center, Encarnacion's arrival in Cleveland didn't keep him from being a late first round pick yet again for 2016 fantasy baseball.  Unfortunately, Encarnacion's slow April starts followed him to Cleveland but even more disturbing is the fact he carried those struggles over to May as well which sounded the alarms on his overall fantasy baseball value.  Given the fact that Encarnacion was now into his mid-30's, there was some concern that he was now in the decline phase of his career.  Fortunately, that has not proven to be the case as Encarnacion is in the midst of an insane June that already has him hitting .360 for the month with six home runs in just 50 at-bats.  That brought Encarnacion's season totals to .265 with 17 home runs and 39 RBI on the year, with the average going up each month.  This shows that Encarnacion has settled firmly into the Cleveland lineup and grown comfortable with the ballpark.  With that easing of the mind, the power swing is back in full force.

Now things are still not all gravy here as Encarnacion's K/9 rate has now gone up for the fourth straight year which no doubt can be pinned to age.  Last season that number was 19.7 and this year it has jumped sharply to 23.3.  That is quite the leap no doubt and again calls into question the bat slowing a bit as he moves close to the age of 35.  Alas, Encarnacion is showing better patience than ever, with his 14.8 BB/9 being a career-best so far.  That has helped mitigate any major average drop and so with things trending northward in that category, a move close to .280 again is very possible.

When you put it all together, Edwin Encarnacion may not supply first round numbers and may never be worthy of such a high pick again in fantasy baseball.  However he has shown he is not done just yet and that his best stretch of the season could be from now and through the fall.  For all Encarnacion owners, it is time to breath again.


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