Toronto Blue Jays: Could Edwin Encarnacion Be the Next Jose Bautista?

Tim MackayCorrespondent IMay 3, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 28:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds second base after hitting a grand slam home run during MLB game action against the Seattle Mariners April 28, 2012 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Brad White/Getty Images)
Brad White/Getty Images

If someone told you that the Blue Jays would have a converted third-baseman close to the lead in all major offensive categories after a month in 2012, who would you guess? 

Jose Bautista, right? 

Well you would be wrong, it's Edwin Encarnacion

Here's a look at Encarnacion's stat-line in 2012. 

He's hitting .320, good for 11th in the American League. He's tied for first in home-runs with nine. His 24 RBI are good for second in the AL behind Josh Hamilton and his 1.057 OPS ranks him fourth. 

Quite simply, he's been carrying the team offensively in April and early May. 

Encarnacion also leads the AL in total bases, extra-base hits, and is second in situational wins added. What that means is that Encarnacion has been great, and particularly great during important moments in games. 

He's been the team's offensive MVP, without a doubt. 

He's doing everything Jays fans have expected Jose Bautista to do - except for the whole fielding thing. 

So, could Encarnacion be the Jays next diamond in the rough? Could he be the next late-blooming superstar to emerge out of the massive pool of average major-leaguers? 

His career stats are much more impressive and consistent than Bautista's before 2010. 

Bautista had a career average of .238, Encarnacion a .260. 

Bautista hit a home-run every 30 at-bats, Encarnacion every 23 at-bats. 

Bautista was drafted in the 20th round, Encarnacion in the 9th round. 

Clearly Encarnacion was expected to be a more productive hitter than Bautista and that would make his emergence as a top-tier offensive contributor to be slightly less shocking than his teammate's. 

Perhaps Encarnacion's move from the National League was overlooked. He looks very comfortable avoiding the anxiety of playing defense and has settled in nicely into the designated hitter role with Toronto.

He's a career .307 hitter when playing DH. 

Like Bautista, Encarnacion has benefited from a position switch and a swing adjustment. His focus on reducing his leg-kick and keeping both hands on the bat during his follow-through has given him a new-found sense of control.

And like Bautista, he looks like a much more professional, dangerous hitter. Rather than swinging himself out of his proper swing mechanics, Encarnacion is staying back on pitches and driving them.

It's very exciting for Jays fans to see yet another castaway re-invent himself as a player and achieve success with the team. 

It sure wouldn't hurt to have another Jose Bautista fall into Alex Anthopoulos' lap. 

Here's hoping "MV(EE)P" is that guy.