Saturday, January 4, 2014

Edwin Encarnacion dubbed 'MLB's most unheralded player'

In 2009, the Reds made a trade that changed the course of the franchise, shipping Edwin Encarnacion to the Toronto Blue Jays (along with Josh Roenicke and Zach Stewart) for veteran third basemen Scott Rolen.

We all know the story. Rolen's presence in both the clubhouse and on the field was immediately felt by the Reds as he helped guide Cincinnati to its first playoff appearance in 15 years the season following the trade. Meanwhile, Encarnacion struggled with the Jays so much that the team released him, which paved the way for the Athletics to temporarily pick him up, before the Dominican native eventually wound up with Toronto, again.

In 2011, the tides of that trade began to change, as the aging Rolen was plagued by injuries all year long, while Encarnacion began to show flashes of brilliance north of the border. By 2012, Encarnacion had blossomed into one of the premier sluggers in the league, tallying 42 home runs, 110 RBI, and a .280/.384/.557 slash line. He followed up that excellent 2012 campaign with a .272/.370/.534 line with 36 jacks and 104 RBI in 2013. As for Rolen, well, he struggled just to stay healthy in 2012, and decided to hang his spikes up at the conclusion of the campaign.

It goes without saying, but the Reds would certainly like to have Encarnacion back in a Reds uniform. This is not a knock on Todd Frazier, the current starting third basemen, but rather a testament to how good Encarnacion has become.

Anyways, Mike Petriello is among many baseball experts who have taken notice of Encarnacion's rise to stardom, going so far as calling him "MLB's most unheralded player" in a recent ESPN Insider article.

In the piece, Petriello talks about Encarnacion's time with the Reds, his subsequent trouble in adjusting with the Jays, and his eventual rise to the top tier of the game's hitters. One of Encarnacion's keys to success, according to Petriello, is simply becoming a better contact hitter. Namely, by not striking out as much.

Again, it would sure be nice to have Encarnacion's stick in the Reds lineup.

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