Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/12/12
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

Butler can’t sign one-year contract unless it’s with Bulls

DeAndre Jordan wants 4-year deal, bigger offensive role

USA-Germany: Rivals meet in World Cup semis

Kings reportedly looking into viability of firing Karl

Jim Brown: I ‘encourage and support’ Johnny Manziel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Vincent criticizes NFLPA over spending millions on lawsuits

MLB urges Supreme Court to deny San Jose's A's appeal

Jeanie Buss: Phil Jackson loves the Twitter criticism

Vikings RB McKinnon: If I had a fantasy team, I'd take myself

Report: Kings have had discussions with John Calipari

De’Andre Johnson charged with misdemeanor battery

MLB’s All-Star roster will now announced be over two days

Blackhawks trade Brandon Saad to the Blue Jackets

Blatter won’t attend World Cup final due to ‘personal reasons’

Sharks have found their starting goalie by acquiring Jones

Fan who caught A-Rod’s 3,000th says he’s received threats

Diamondbacks are contenders, but team's direction is unclear

Selecting the 2015 American League All-Stars

Jim Harbaugh is recruiting a prospect he once babysat

Conan makes Marshawn's wildest dreams come true

Brett Favre dons Packers jersey, says, 'I think I could still play'

Bo Knows, Bo Goes: Wisconsin feels pride and pain

Popovich won't call free agents at midnight, he'll be in bed

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

Selecting the 2015 AL All-Stars

NBA Draft grades: Eastern Conference

Under the radar NBA free agents

Michael Sam, boyfriend broke up?

Mickelson linked to money laundering?

Reminiscing on 'Love & Basketball' 15 years later

Selecting the 2015 NL All-Stars

The Sixers' latest horde

Projected landing spots for NBA's top free agents

MLB changes format for Home Run Derby

Revis to work out with Patriots DBs

Peterson: I'm still NFL's best RB

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.