The 2019 season hasn’t gone how the New York Yankees expected based on the number of days impact players have spent on the injured list. Manager Aaron Boone‘s club hasn’t let that stop them from racking up a 43-27 record, though, good for first place in the American League East.
New York is set to begin an important series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are just a half-game behind them in standings. They’re expected to get some thunder back in the lineup Tuesday by activating Giancarlo Stanton, but more thunder is coming Monday with Edwin Encarnacion‘s arrival.
Encarnacion, whose 21 dingers lead the AL, was acquired by the Yankees from the Seattle Mariners over the weekend. As the Bronx Bombers continue getting healthy — let’s not forget that Aaron Judge is also close to returning — this acquisition will make it fun (and hard) for Boone to fill out a lineup card. ESPN’s Buster Olney provided one example in the below tweet:
That’s…a tough gauntlet for opposing pitchers (and a great picture of Edwin).
Despite registering his fourth consecutive year of 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI in 2018, the right-handed slugger did take a small step back in his overall production. His 32 homers were the fewest he’d hit since 2014, while his 115 wRC+ and 1.7 fWAR were both the lowest they’d been since 2011.
In his short stint with Seattle, though, his previous levels of production have seemed to return. He’s already got those 21 homers, pairing it with a 139 wRC+ and 1.7 fWAR through 289 plate appearances.
Even though his 39.7% hard-hit rate represents a slight decrease from last year (42.4%), Encarnacion has amped up his fly-ball rate (43.7% to 48.7%) and pull rate (45.6% to 52.9%). It also helps that he’s absolutely pounding sinkers, curveballs, and changeups.
Encarnacion has hit 12 of his 21 homers off those pitches (four for each), and he doesn’t have lower than a .455 ISO or 217 wRC+ against any of them. Looks like the 36-year-old has consistently found a way to capitalize when opposing pitchers make a mistake.
Although Yankee Stadium hasn’t appeared to be as much of a launching pad in 2019 as it has in recent seasons, it’s still a very hitter-friendly park. Adding a power hitter with Encarnacion’s track record (401 career homers) should play quite well in the Boogie Down.
He’s appeared in 69 games against New York as a visiting player (nice). That’s led to a .263/.330/.510 triple slash with 18 homers and 43 RBI in just 288 plate appearances. Coincidentally enough, that’s almost identical to his current 2019 numbers (21 homers, 49 RBI in 289 plate appearances).
The Yankees’ lineup was already scary to think about as they continue getting impact players healthy. This seemingly brings it to a whole other level.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book and created an online class about how to get started as a sports blogger. Check those out and more helpful tips on sports blogging at his website.