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Friday, May 09, 2014

Encarnacion breaks out with 200th home run

Looking back a few years makes the 200 home run plateau all the more impressive. Though Encarnacion has established himself as one of the game’s top right-handed bats, it wasn’t all that long ago that he was battling for his roster spot. The Blue Jays designated Encarnacion for assignment four years ago and the Athletics non-tendered him after claiming him on waivers later in 2010. Encarnacion was proud to reach and surpass the 200 home run mark against some long odds.

“There were tough years and I had to work through it,” Encarnacion said. “I learned from those years, but they made me a better player. I knew deep down that I was capable of being the player I am now.”

More importantly for the 2014 Blue Jays, Encarnacion is hitting again. He started the season slowly, struggling to find his power stroke and striking out more than usual. But his .837 on-base plus slugging is well above the MLB average of .707, an impressive uptick considering Encarnacion’s OPS was hovering around .670 until two weeks ago.

Francisco, meanwhile, has started his Blue Jays career on a tear with five home runs in his first 17 games. While it’ll be more difficult to work him into the lineup once Brett Lawrie returns this weekend, manager John Gibbons promises to find a way to get him at-bats nonetheless.

“He deserves it,” Gibbons said. “We’re better with him in there, I would say.”

Thanks to Brill.

Repoz Posted: May 09, 2014 at 08:16 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: blue jays

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   1. BDC Posted: May 09, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4703263)
We made much of the early-2000s inflation of career milestones – 500 is the new 300, that sort of thing – but it's still interesting to consider just how much of an achievement "even" 200 HR is. Here's a guy who showed decent power for 6 or 7 years, despite injuries, and then leaderboard power for another two, and now finally at the age of 31 reaches his 200th home run. Nothing to sneeze at, not that anyone here felt a sneeze coming on …
   2. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4703272)
The offence sure is clicking at the moment. Lind's first game back last night and he hit one out, Rasmus hit his 9th last night, Encarnacion is getting rolling now (4 HR in 3 games) two of them last night. Bautista is looking as good as he's ever been (.450 OBP helps).

But I'd say their best hitter in the past two weeks has been Juan Francisco (.311/.403/.623 in 17 games). One thing the Jays have been good at recently (perhaps the only thing?) is taking guys with power potential who haven't panned out and really helping them turn the corner. Bautista and Encarnacion are the successes on that score. It's obviously far too early to tell with Juan Francisco, but sweet jesus can that guy hit. He had a line drive single last night that almost knocked over the outfielder, then hit one on a line into the opposite field gap that got to the wall before anyone could even move...then finished off with a line drive home run to the leftfield gap. Even during the bullpen induced losing streak last week, this lineup has been a pleasure to watch. Even Josh Thole is hitting.
   3. simon bedford Posted: May 09, 2014 at 09:51 AM (#4703302)
i dont know if all these guys have "turned a corner" or just come to a park where the ball just rockets out of the park on a fairly regular basis.
   4. formerly dp Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:01 AM (#4703311)
Bautista and Encarnacion are the successes on that score.
The Jays got two of the league's better right-handed power hitters essentially for free. Too bad the farm wasn't able to churn out the complementary pieces to go with them. That offense is kicking into high gear now though, hopefully they can keep it up. Is Lawrie good enough at 2B that they could keep Fransisco in the lineup by moving him over on a semi-regular basis?
   5. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4703318)
I haven't seen enough of Lawrie to know for sure...I think he certainly could hold his own there. His skills seem very well suited to third (where he is tremendous) and I recall when he was in the Milwaukee system the organization seemed down on him defensively (he was a 2B at the time).

You are giving up a HELL of a lot from Lawrie to Francisco at third. They've gotten away with it so far, there was one game-winning double down the line while Francisco was there that I thought Lawrie may have at least knocked down. But other than that I can't think of too many plays Francisco hasn't made...though he sure doesn't inspire confidence with how he looks fielding a ball.

In regards to the home park, certainly the Sky Dome is a nice place to hit homers, but I think there's more than that going on. Bautista is a different player than when he was struggling to get off the bench in Pittsburgh, and Encarnacion didn't immediately improve upon getting to Toronto. As I recall a couple years ago he stalled enough for the Jays to waive him, and Oakland claimed...though thankfully they couldn't find a spot for him and sent him back to Toronto. Unless you mean they're hitting better this season because they're at home now...though Rasmus has hit 6 of his 9 homers on the road.
   6. formerly dp Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:14 AM (#4703321)
You are giving up a HELL of a lot from Lawrie to Francisco at third. They've gotten away with it so far, there was one game-winning double down the line while Francisco was there that I thought Lawrie may have at least knocked down. But other than that I can't think of too many plays Francisco hasn't made...though he sure doesn't inspire confidence with how he looks fielding a ball.
It may not be worth the hit. But other than the homers, Lawrie has been pretty much a zero with the bat this year, and they have no good options at 2B (Goins hit about as well as you would've expected, not sure why they didn't see that coming...). They've gotten a surprising amount of offense from their 3 catchers, but I suspect Thole won't continue to hit .400...
   7. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4703327)
Yeah that is the other factor.....which is worse, Francisco's glove or Goins' (or whoever's) bat?

This clearly wasn't plan A (or plan Z for that matter) this off-season as Francisco wasn't available until the end of Spring Training. Apparently AA had some ideas (the Kinsler trade that got nixed), but ended up with Goins when they fell through. To his credit he appears to be flexible and didn't waste a ton of time once this new, rather unorthodox option presented itself. Lawrie's hurt for the moment, so I guess that puts off making any kind of actual decision for a couple more days.
   8. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:26 AM (#4703336)
But his .837 on-base plus slugging is well above the MLB average of .707

Wow, didn't realize that. I had enough trouble doing the mental recalibration of "average" to roughly .325/.425. It looks like I have to recalibrate again.
   9. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4703348)
I heard Vin Scully last night saying something about positional averages. I'm not entirely sure if I understood him right, but he seemed to be saying that so far this year catchers league-wide are a unit are hitting better than all other positions other than 1B and DH (not sure by what measurement), which seems pretty remarkable after 5-6 weeks.
   10. shoelesjoe Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:38 AM (#4703350)
The Jays are slugging almost .600 at home, and only .391 on the road. Odd that, especially since opposing hitters don't see their own power numbers jump nearly so much in the dome. Having watched a handful of BJ home games this year it really did appear that for many ABs their guys knew exactly what pitch was coming and exactly what to do with it.
   11. formerly dp Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4703353)
This clearly wasn't plan A (or plan Z for that matter) this off-season as Francisco wasn't available until the end of Spring Training.
The Jays have turned guys like this around in the past, but I'm not betting Francisco keeps it up for very long. Still worth riding the hand while it's hot. Worth noting that they've done all of this with Janssen on the shelf and he should be back this weekend.
   12. Depressoteric Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:46 AM (#4703360)
The Jays are slugging almost .600 at home, and only .391 on the road. Odd that, especially since opposing hitters don't see their own power numbers jump nearly so much in the dome. Having watched a handful of BJ home games this year it really did appear that for many ABs their guys knew exactly what pitch was coming and exactly what to do with it.
Obviously they're in cahoots with the Marlins.
   13. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: May 09, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4703364)
The Jays are slugging almost .600 at home, and only .391 on the road. Odd that, especially since opposing hitters don't see their own power numbers jump nearly so much in the dome.
Strategic A/C manipulation?
   14. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 09, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4703402)
For the first two games of the Jays-Phillies disaster of a series, I thought the Jays still had Ben Francisco. "Wow, he's gained some weight!"

So it's actually the guy who was on the Braves last year! No wonder he strikes out so much.
   15. Mess with the Meat, you get the Wad! Posted: May 09, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4703520)
this man is the source of a lot of old btf bets, I wonder if anyone still has them bookmarked. I know I have one with bivens but I forget the details
   16. RJ in TO Posted: May 09, 2014 at 01:37 PM (#4703535)
The Jays are slugging almost .600 at home, and only .391 on the road. Odd that, especially since opposing hitters don't see their own power numbers jump nearly so much in the dome. Having watched a handful of BJ home games this year it really did appear that for many ABs their guys knew exactly what pitch was coming and exactly what to do with it.


Based on B-R splits:
At home, they're hitting .276/.337/.532. On the road, they're hitting .251/.329/.391.
At home, the pitchers are allowing .266/.346/.454. On the road, they're allowing .250/.337/.387

Honestly, it looks like everyone knows what pitch is coming at the Rogers Centre. And if this was checked two days ago, it probably would have been roughly even between what the Jays and what opponents were hitting at the Dome - they've only played 14 games there this year.
   17. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: May 09, 2014 at 01:42 PM (#4703538)
Edwin Encarncion?! The failed Reds iron-fisted 3B prospect? There's no way that guy has hit 200 career homers. Not in MLB. Maybe in Toronto.
   18. Rickey! On a blog from 1998. With the candlestick. Posted: May 09, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4703539)
Obviously they're in cahoots with the Marlins.


The Twins really did turn the A/C on and off between half innings in the old Twinkie Dome. They really did modify the arena to suit the home offense. Teams really have stolen signs for the entire history of the game. And with modern tech, it's really simple to put a hi-def camera in one of those flashing scoreboards or in that "sculpture" in Miami, shunt the feed to a guy on the 3B side and have him flash what's coming signs to the batter without getting caught.

There's something funky about both of these home splits.
   19. Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone Posted: May 09, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4703546)
Francisco's been an extremely pleasant surprise in the early going, but if they try to make him a regular, the air will leave that balloon in a hurry. Francisco ought to become what the Jays have lacked for years -- a reliable and dangerous bat off the bench.

This team has enough offence that they can carry a defence-only guy like a Jonathan Diaz or Ryan Goins at second -- and that pitching staff, Buehrle and Dickey especially, absolutely needs stellar middle-infield defence. The contrast from last year, when an Izturis-Bonifacio DP combo was not uncommon, and this year has been remarkable. Francisco can PH as needed for whichever marshmallow bat is currently at second.

Lawrie is outstanding at 3B, and his bat will come around -- putting him at second heightens his injury risk, and replacing him with Francisco further magnifies the defensive downgrade. I don't think this team is going very far, but however far they do go will hinge on how well they throw and catch, not on whether they can squeeze another power bat into the lineup.
   20. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 09, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4703579)
Isn't part of the Jay's' MO getting their guys to pull everything? Iirc Bautista pulled all but 1 HR in his breakout year. The Reds tried to get Edwin to hit to all fields. It worked well enough but he just couldn't hack it at third.
   21. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 09, 2014 at 03:14 PM (#4703603)
Honestly, it looks like everyone knows what pitch is coming at the Rogers Centre.

They did in the last two games vs. the Phillies. How did they know that they were getting meatballs down the middle? J'Accuse!!
   22. Jeff R., P***y Mainlander Posted: May 09, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4703615)
Teams really have stolen signs for the entire history of the game. And with modern tech, it's really simple to put a hi-def camera in one of those flashing scoreboards or in that "sculpture" in Miami, shunt the feed to a guy on the 3B side and have him flash what's coming signs to the batter without getting caught.


If it's that easy and that effective, then any team who doesn't steal signs at home is incredibly stupid.

There's something funky about both of these home splits.


It's called "small sample size." Call me at the end of the season when Miami is still batting 100 points higher at home on their way to the division championship.
   23. RJ in TO Posted: May 09, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4703633)
Isn't part of the Jay's' MO getting their guys to pull everything? Iirc Bautista pulled all but 1 HR in his breakout year. The Reds tried to get Edwin to hit to all fields. It worked well enough but he just couldn't hack it at third.


The general philosophy they've used since Cito was coach was to go up to the plate looking for a specific pitch in a specific zone and, if you get it, swing really ####### hard. This approach likely has the effect of getting them to pull a lot, but more as a side effect of the approach, rather than as a goal.

When it works, it's a lot of fun to watch.
   24. formerly dp Posted: May 09, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4703650)
Fransico and Rasmus are the two most added players on Yahoo today, fwiw. Colby's killing it all of the sudden after a pretty miserable April.
   25. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4703716)
Isn't part of the Jay's' MO getting their guys to pull everything? Iirc Bautista pulled all but 1 HR in his breakout year. The Reds tried to get Edwin to hit to all fields. It worked well enough but he just couldn't hack it at third.

If I recall they've tried the same thing with Rasmus, with mixed results.

Though interestingly Bautista's actually got at least one team (the Phillies) to stop shifting on him by smacking a few singles to rightfield.
   26. Good cripple hitter Posted: May 09, 2014 at 05:49 PM (#4703731)
Isn't part of the Jay's' MO getting their guys to pull everything? Iirc Bautista pulled all but 1 HR in his breakout year.


According to the home run tracker at baseball-reference, Jose's hit 220 home runs, and 18 weren't pulled (they were hit to CF/RF/RCF).

I seemed to recall teams using multiple signs in all situations when playing in Toronto after the sign-stealing story broke, so I decided to look it up.

This is really half-assed, I just pulled up random games from this year on mlb.tv and watched until I saw the catcher give the sign (or signs) once or twice.

Teams that hid their signs with the bases empty while playing in Toronto:
Boston (didn't hide signs in Baltimore, Chicago, or New York)
NY Yankees (didn't hide signs in Houston, Tampa, Boston, and Anaheim)

Teams that didn't hide their signs with the bases empty while playing in Toronto:
Houston
Baltimore
Phillies

Given the shared personnel, Boston's behaviour is interesting. Given his reputation as a control freak, Showalter not doing it is also interesting. Part of me thinks that the Jays are really good at stealing signs just because of JP Arencibia's splits last year (.242/.270/.462 at home, .147/.185/.269 on the road), but this is a case where it's too tempting to look too closely at splits.
   27. Greg K Posted: May 09, 2014 at 06:56 PM (#4703750)
Be curious to see when the Rangers come to the Sky Dome. Assuming something fishy is going on, you'd expect JP Arencibia to alert his new team-mates.
   28. formerly dp Posted: May 10, 2014 at 02:09 PM (#4704075)
Apparently the Jays are going with the offense-first approach against righties:
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Saturday that the team plans to use Brett Lawrie at second base against right-handed pitchers in order to keep Juan Francisco's bat in the lineup.
   29. Greg K Posted: May 10, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4704190)
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Saturday that the team plans to use Brett Lawrie at second base against right-handed pitchers in order to keep Juan Francisco's bat in the lineup.

So presumably against lefties you have Getz at second and either Lind or Francisco DH?

For what it's worth they faced a lefty today and they sat both Lind and Rasmus. Though I imagine it was just a day off for Rasmus, he'll usually bat against lefties. Lawrie's also still out so today's lineup likely isn't at all a reflection of what will be standard. So I guess it boils down to only using one of Lind/Francisco against lefties. Considering both of those guys are left-handed hitters (and Getz is left handed too), this seems like a situation that's screaming not for a lefty/righty platoon, but a "who's pitching for the Jays" platoon. Give Buehrle the good D, in other words.

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