Indians First Baseman Edwin Encarnacion can hit. He is a home run hitter. But as big and strong as he is, he still needs protection. All you have to do is look at last year’s stats and a move the Tribe made in August to prove it.
It was August 9, 2017 when the Indians acquired Jay Bruce in a trade with the Mets. Manager Terry Francona planted him in the lineup right behind Edwin Encarnacion. Bruce played 43 games with the Indians in August, September and October. He hit .248 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. It doesn’t seem like much, but just his presence in the lineup worked wonders for Encarnacion.
Helping the Home Run Hitter
Edwin went on a tear beginning in August. He hit 10 home runs in August 2017, including a streak of five games in a row. He followed it up by batting .313 in September and October, adding 7 home runs. But the stat that sticks out to me the most from last year are the walks. Despite being the Indians best home run hitter, Edwin walked more in August than in any other month-22. He walked 15 more times in September and October and was on base 40 percent of the time during that span.
Why? Because pitchers had to pick their poison. They have to pitch to Encarnacion when they have someone like Bruce sitting behind him. Edwin is a home run hitter and Bruce hits bombs. Or they can walk Edwin and take their chances with Bruce. You make your whole lineup better when you protect your home run hitter.
That’s why the Indians have to get a bat in the lineup to protect Encarnacion down the stretch if they have any chance of getting back to the World Series. It’s a much better lineup when your home run hitter has protection. But the latest MLB trade rumors have the Tribe looking for more pitching.
Building a Better Baseball Lineup
Yonder Alonso is a nice player. But 17 home runs in 113 games won’t strike fear into anyone. Yonder has a place in the lineup, but not behind Edwin. In a perfect scenario, the Indians get another home run hitter to put behind Edwin and move Alonso down. The proof is in the numbers-Encarnacion needs protection.
There’s no denying Encarnacion is a consistent home run hitter. Since 2012, Encarnacion hasn’t hit fewer than 34 home runs, and has only missed the 100-RBI mark one time (98 in 2014, in 128 games). Like I said, the guy can hit, but he can hit even better with a little help. Let’s hope the Indians have some of that August magic planned again this season.