When Edwin Encarnacion was first acquired by the Yankees, the baseball world was somewhat shocked and confused. It didn’t seem like a great fit for an already robust lineup with multiple DH types. But when Giancarlo Stanton got hurt, and then eventually Luke Voit, the trade looked like it made more and more sense. Cashman has no problem improving further upon team strengths, and it was hard to pass up on the resurgent AL home run leader for basically nothing but money in return.
The problem, however, is that Encarnacion’s resurgent season has halted upon arrival in New York. Across 65 games in Seattle this season, Encarnacion hit to a .241/.356/.531 slash line. His OPS sat at a hot .888. His 21 home runs at the time of the trade led the American League.
But the early returns in New York have been meager across a small sample size of 16 games. He’s slashing just .123/.208/.338 with the Yankees. His OPS is just .547. He’s shown some power with 4 home runs but hasn’t done much else offensively yet.
While he’s struggled mightily against righties, he’s had just one hit against lefties over 21 plate appearances. In Seattle, he actually performed better against lefties than righties.
Another place he dominated in Seattle was with RISP. He slashed .327/.478/.653 in those scenarios, driving in 27 runs. But with the Yankees, who typically this year have dominated with RISP, he’s hitting .154/.267/.231 with no home runs and just 2 RBIs.
For some reason, his plate discipline has fallen off since the trade. He’s seen his BB% drop from 9.7% with Seattle to 8.3% with the New York. While that’s not a terrible drop-off, his SO% has been much worse. It’s dropped from 19% in Seattle to 31.9% with New York, adjusting his SO/BB ratio from 1.34 to 3.83.
Perhaps Encarnacion prefers hitting in a certain spot in the order. With Seattle, when hitting cleanup, he crushed the ball to a .330/.440/682 tune along with a 1.122 OPS. Batting 3rd, his next most plate appearances, he hit just .182/.302/.438. With the Yankees, he’s seen most of his plate appearances batting 5th, and he’s continued to struggle there.
Maybe he’s a guy who prefers hitting in a certain spot in the order. Perhaps he’s taking extra time to adjust. It could just be a small sample size and nothing to worry about. Or maybe he’s just in need of this All-Star break for a little rest. Whatever the reason, he probably has extra time to work things out in this stacked lineup, but sooner or later he’ll need to start putting things together.