How many times have we seen a player sign a big-money deal with a new team and they suck in the first year? Sometimes, they just suck for the duration of the entire contract. Happens all the time. It looked like it was happening with Edwin Encarnacion, too. In his first game in an Indians uniform, Encarnacion blasted a home run and scored two runs in a win over Texas on Opening Day. After that? It wasn’t so pretty. On May 3, Encarnacion went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout to drop his batting average down to .198 on the year with a .667 OPS. He had also struck out in 42% of his at-bats over that span.
The next night, Encarnacion went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double and he hasn’t looked back. Since May 5, Cleveland’s newest slugger is hitting .306 with a 1.021 OPS, 12 homers, 5 doubles and 26 RBI. He also cut his strikeout percentage in half, down to 20% from 42%. Over this run of 38 games for Encarnacion, he’s fifth in the American League in OPS, fourth in on-base percentage (.409) and homers (12). It’s also interesting to note that over the first 27 games that Encarnacion was struggling, the Indians were 15-12, but over the 38 games that he’s been red hot, they’re still only two games over .500 at 20-18. You’d figure that he’d be making way more of an impact than that the way that he’s been swinging it.
It’s all good in Cleveland, though. They’re still sitting in first place in the AL Central with a two-game lead over the Twins, and they’re the only team in the division with a positive run differential except for the last place White Sox of all teams. Although, I’d bet against Chicago finishing the season with a positive run differential. They come into play today with a +4 run differential, while the Tribe is +38, and everybody else is negative. This should be Cleveland’s division to lose from here on out.