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

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

Michael Jordan wants Warriors to break Bulls record

Joe Mauer says concussions have affected his hitting

Kobe once tried to recruit Dirk Nowitzki to Lakers

Report: Broncos waiting on Manning to talk with Osweiler

NBA commish wants to look into hack-a-player issue

Report: Jose Fernandez has 'soured' on Marlins brass

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Zach LaVine dedicates dunk contest win to Flip Saunders

Alleged Manning sexual assault cited in Tennessee lawsuit

Arian Foster: It's hard for me to watch football

Isaiah Thomas recruiting players at All-Star weekend

Report: Charles Woodson joining ESPN's Sunday NFL crew

Best and worst from NBA All-Star Saturday night

WATCH: Dustin Johnson's son steals Jordan Spieth's club

Fans want Floyd Mayweather to buy their soccer team

Tennessee shares Valentines-themed photo of packed stadium

NY Post writer takes harsh shot at Jason Pierre-Paul

LaVine, Gordon put on best NBA dunk contest in years

WATCH: Thompson beats teammate Curry in 3-point contest

NFL teams, players hand out awesome Valentines

Earl Campbell ‘disappointed’ in Johnny Manziel, wants to help

Big man Karl-Anthony Towns wins NBA skills challenge

MLB commish: Cubs will host All-Star Game in near future

WATCH: Memphis forward recreates Vince Carter's elbow dunk in game

Bruins forward is goal scoring machine after suspension

Michael Jordan gives Kobe Bryant complete set of Air Jordans

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

LaVine dedicates dunk contest win to Flip Saunders

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker