Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Toronto_blue_jays_f59b

Edwin Encarnacion has been one of the league’s biggest breakout players in 2012. He carried a .295/.382/.565 line into the break (all career highs) and with 23 home runs, he sits just three away from his career high set back in 2008 with Cincinnati. Thursday afternoon the Blue Jays rewarded Encarnacion, signing him to a three-year, $29 million contract.

Encarnacion has always had a decent bat with a ton of pop. He entered the season with a career .260/.336/.453 line, averaging 25 home runs per 162 games. This year, the power has exploded. His slugging percentage of .565 is a career high by 83 points and his ISO of .269 is a high by 31. He’s hitting more fly balls than ever before (50.6%) and more of them are leaving the yard (17.8%).

It’s easy to point to his pull power — 14 home runs to left field, a 31.0% HR/FB rate — but it’s Encarnacion’s power to center field that has put this year apart from past seasons. Eight of his 23 home runs have come to center, with a 15.1% HR/FB rate that nearly triples his career mark of 5.9%. As we’re only talking about 53 fly balls, it would be easy to call this up-the-middle power a fluke, but a change in Encarnacion’s swing suggests it should be sustainable.

Observe, a snapshot of Encaracion’s finished swing from 2012 next to one from 2011:

Specifically, look at where Encarnacion’s hands end up. In the 2011 swing, the hands would come apart and result in a sort of “helicopter” backswing. Now, Encarnacion keeps both hands on the bat throughout the swing. The result is a shorter, quicker swing that gives significantly more power, specifically on outside pitches (in this case, resulting in a home run to center in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum). As ESPN’s David Schoenfield pointed out, the biggest difference for Encarnacion this season has been his ability to hit the outside pitch for power, and this is where many of those center field home runs come from.

Power can be fickle, and what can look like a breakout for half a season can merely be a fluke, but the warning signs just aren’t there for Encarnacion. Seven of his 23 home runs are considered “Just Enough” by ESPN Hit Tracker, with 33% a normal rate for hitters. His HR/FB rate of 17.8% is just 2.7% higher than his previous career high. Most importantly, he’s made a significant mechanical change that supports a power increase.

The Blue Jays are betting not that Edwin Encarnacion remains an elite hitter for the next three years, just a consistently above-average one. If he continues to do what he has over the past three months — a distinct possibility thanks to his revamped swing — the Jays will pull a huge profit out of this extension.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cam Newton not a person of interest in night club shooting

Should Texans consider moving on from Arian Foster?

Dice-K begins comeback bid, makes first start in Japan

Report: Teams think Suh to Dolphins is ‘done' deal

Adrian Peterson still has ‘concerns’ about Vikings

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

LSU S blasts Tigers fans for leaving game early

Nobody’s safe in the NFL and nothing is sacred

UMass to retire jersey in honor of John Calipari

Houston Texans are moving on from Andre Johnson

Top landing spots for Darrelle Revis

Mets: Murphy will no longer discuss his religious beliefs

WATCH: CP3 goes nuts after DeAndre Jordan doesn't shoot

WATCH: Ridiculous foul called on Penn State

WATCH: Westbrook throws down huge dunk in return

Cowboys hang out at Duke game, pose with funny poster

Report: Peyton Manning's contract incentives tied to Super Bowl

Bean responds to Murphy's homosexuality comments

Haynesworth to Suh: Skins ‘took my love away from the game’

Five teams that should consider signing JaVale McGee

MLB local streaming is unlikely for Opening Day

Ronaldo sends his hair stylist to check on his wax figure monthly

Arizona Diamondbacks unveil 'The Churro Dog'

Ray Allen announces he will not play this season

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Every starting QB ranked by mobility

WATCH: CP3 goes nuts

UFC must make Rousey vs. Cyborg happen

Suh to Dolphins a 'done' deal?

Why haven't brands shown love to James Harden?

Nobody’s safe in the NFL and nothing is sacred

Tim Lincecum’s last best chance

Ten most underrated players in the NBA

Stevens: LeBron looks like the MVP

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.