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Friday, April 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL CRISIS POINT: EDWIN ENCARNACION

One of the early themes of the 2018 fantasy baseball season centered on how downright putrid the Cleveland Indians batting order has been through the first two weeks.  Up until just a few days ago, not a single batter in the everyday lineup was hitting over .200 which is a staggering statistic.  While things are looking up a bit after the Indians pasted the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, struggles still abound such as with first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion.  Heading into the 2018 season, I had my concerns here which I expressed both here and in our annual draft guide and they centered on how Encarnacion was aging and at 35 and also seeing his strikeout rate rise (over 19.0 percent each of the previous two years after generally being in the 15 range during his prime).  Well things are off to an even more inauspicious start as Encarnacion goes into Friday's action with a ghastly .136 average and just 3 home runs and 4 RBI in 52 at-bats.  So will the struggles continue?   Let's take a closer look.

First we can't ignore the age factor as Encarnacion at 35 is very closer to the "cliff" seasons where the numbers take a major dive for guys with big body types like the Indians slugger has.  Whether it was Ryan Howard or Carlos Lee, big-bodies sluggers tend to fall off quickly and the end arrives soon thereafter.  In addition, Encarnacion might be hinting at his bat slowing down as his K/9 rate is obscene at 28.8 percent.  With opposing pitchers realizing they can beat Encarnacion with the fastball like never before, there has been a sizable drop in walks as well as the BB/9 rate has gone from 15.5 in 2017 to just 9.6 this season.  Not good all the way around.  So in essence, Encarnacion has to get going soon to restore confidence in his swing and overall production as the season gets into full swing.  It does need to be said though that Encarnacion tends to always struggle in April and then also tends to go nuts in May which historically has been his most productive month that also helps him get fully on track.  So let's not completely panic here until we see him perform in May.  If the struggles do persist then however, it is likely that the cliff season is here to stay.


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