Edwin Encarnacion: Underrated and Under Appreciated

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Edwin Encarnacion: Underrated and Under Appreciated
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

According to this link and John Fay, the debate on whether Edwin Encarnacion should be the everyday third baseman when he returns might need to be tabled for a little while longer. 

I would hope that none of you are pleased with the news that Edwin might be placed on the 60-Day DL, but I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you aren’t too upset about it, and that’s OK. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

How's that for a smile?

A lot of you like seeing Jerry Hairston and Adam Rosales at third base. I have no problem with those two spelling for Edwin Encarnacion for a start here and there and getting the majority of their playing time over at short. I’m all about that.

But I believe the man the Reds need at third base is Edwin Encarnacion. I have not always been a proponent of Edwin and at times in the past, I’ve wanted to throw him off the Roebling Bridge. But I have a different take on him now. 

What caused me to change my mind, you might wonder? That’s simple. The stats.

Reds fans have short memories; I believe that is apparent.

What Reds fans remember is that when he went on the DL, he was batting .127 and still throwing balls into the Dugout Box before his wrist injury sidelined him. 

What Reds fans do not remember is that (not including this year or his 69 game stint in 2005) over the past three seasons, Edwin has hit .272/.351/.458, knocked out 57 home runs, and drove in 216 runs. Reds fans also do not realize that he is only a few months older than Joey Votto and has been a major league starter since 2006.

Now, Adam Rosales is a good player and I love his attitude, but you’re not going to get that type of run production out of him; it’s not his M.O. The same goes for Jerry Hairston, Jr. He’s not a home run hitter, he’s a “get-on-base” guy. As long as those guys are doing what they’re supposed to and playing their type of baseball, not trying to be like someone they aren’t, I have no problem with them – they should have a spot on this club. So please don’t misunderstand this post as being anti-JHJ or Rosie – that’s not the case.

The thing is, you can’t tell me that this club doesn’t need a guy who hit 26 home runs last season. With Joey Votto gone for who knows how long, that’s exactly what the Reds need.

Unfortunately, Edwin has been the victim of some of the most unfair type-casting and stereotyping I’ve ever seen. It really is shades of Adam Dunn. Edwin has been labeled by fans as a guy who doesn’t care, who has a bad attitude, who doesn’t hustle, and who doesn’t want to improve. Unfortunately for those fans, they’ll never hear anyone who actually knows the guy say anything of the sort.

What you will hear is people say that he internalizes a lot of his mistakes and is very tough on himself. They’ll tell you he works very hard off the field and during the off season, as well.

If someone out there knows Edwin Encarnacion personally or if one of you all have worked closely with the Reds and can give me the inside scoop on Edwin and what his attitude is really like or verify the previous accusations, I’d appreciate it.

Unless you qualify as someone who meets those standards, please refrain from making broad-brush judgements on Edwin’s attitude and work ethic. Just because the guy doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve or smile while he’s playing ball or say the ‘F’ word after he makes a throwing error doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care or that he is just out there waiting for pay day. 

I’ll go a step further. If you can link me to a credible source on the web of someone who is close to Mr. Encarnacion and/or is inside the Reds’ clubhouse on a regular basis who believes Edwin is a loafer with a bad attitude and a poor work ethic, I would have no problem changing my mind and admitting I’m wrong.

If you are old enough to read this blog, you’re old enough to know that no two people are the same. People respond to things in different ways.

Month by Month Facts

I Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip tOPS+
  April/March 93 90 370 321 41 77 19 2 11 55 4 1 45 62 .240 .341 .414 .755 133 4 4 0 0 1 3 .266 92
  May 68 64 277 247 28 56 12 0 7 25 0 1 21 48 .227 .307 .360 .667 89 3 8 0 1 0 7 .254 70
  June 58 52 216 185 33 54 14 1 7 24 1 0 23 45 .292 .389 .492 .881 91 5 7 0 1 2 2 .351 124
  July 69 59 253 225 29 64 13 0 11 31 5 1 21 40 .284 .360 .489 .849 110 5 6 0 1 1 1 .303 115
  August 104 101 415 382 57 108 29 0 19 69 2 2 25 82 .283 .337 .508 .845 194 11 7 0 1 3 4 .316 112
  Sept/Oct 98 93 381 328 40 82 17 0 12 49 7 0 39 68 .250 .341 .412 .753 135 8 9 0 5 3 7 .277 92

Edwin is an offensive threat, even when he’s not hitting the ball particularly well. It should also be noted that, like many people, Edwin is perennially a slow starter, but is red hot by the time the summer rolls around. 

Unfortunately, by the off season, no one can remember these splits or how many home runs he hit. 

You were probably like me last off season. You checked Reds.com to see if there was any new Redleg news. You would scroll down and see the Reds 2008 leaderboard and there you would find Edwin Encarnacion’s face by “Home Runs” and you would think, “Really?” Then you would surf away to another blog or website and that information would be lost on you until the next time you went searching for hot stove rumors.

It’s true though folks—as much as I don’t even like to admit it (because, remember, I wasn’t always and EE fan), Edwin is good. He is a valuable asset to this club, and he is an above-average third baseman.

Am I saying he’s untouchable? No. I think given the right scenario and the right opportunity, the Reds should have no reason to hang on to Edwin long term. 

Unless Edwin goes on the 60 Day DL, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him in a deal before the trade deadline. This is probably another reason why the club is anxious to get him back on the field. Any setbacks now will be very detrimental to his trade value.

But for the time being, Edwin Encarnacion is a Cincinnati Red. Instead of throwing the guy under the bus, we should look around the league and be glad we have a third baseman who is an offensive producer and quit expecting him to be Evan Longoria or Ryan Zimmerman. 

Reds fans, take your ginkgo biloba and then go look at Edwin’s career numbers. Hopefully then, when he throws a ball into the View Level seats, we’ll be able to remember why he’s on the team.

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