A Different Viewpoint on Edwin Encarnacion’s Contract

Yesterday the Toronto Blue Jays signed Edwin Encarnacion to a three-year, $27 million contract that also includes a $10 club option for a fourth season.

I’ll lightly touch upon WAR analysis without going too far in-depth. I’m sure you can find standard WAR breakdowns at Fan Graphs and other sites.

Cliff Notes WAR on the Transaction:

A WAR is around $4.5 million. If WAR is your thing, EE has to post roughly 6 WAR in 3 seasons to justify his contract. This season EE has 2.8 WAR and is on pace for over 5.0 WAR

 

If EE can maintain his success, his contract is a bargain. If he regresses I think the contract still represents a good risk vs reward.

With that out of the way, I’d rather look at some of the ‘cool stuff’ such as heat maps and varying statistics. I think some of the following examples showcase the value the Jays could potentially receive from the contract.

Timeline

I think many will agree with me that the new EE, you know, the one that earned the $27 million contract, appeared in the second half of last season. Because of this, all of the stats found below are from last seasons all-star break (July 14th) until this seasons all-star break. Roughly a season’s worth of data. And away we go…

Plate Coverage

If you throw a strike, EE is going to make you pay.  Edwin’s slugging in the strike zone, in numerical and heat map graphics:

The only questionable area for Edwin is middle-inside. But if you’re a pitcher and you see a .950 slugging percentage low and in, are you willing to risk it?

Good Bad Ball Hitter

As we’ve seen, EE owns the majority of the strike zone. He has also found a great deal of success when offering at pitches outside of the strike zone.

Outcomes of Pitches Outside the Strike Zone (Batting Average)

Using our predetermined timeline, Edwin has a .848 OPS and .409 wOBA on pitches outside of the strike zone. Both of these marks are 97th percentile, making him one of baseball’s elite on pitches outside of the zone.

And EE doesn’t chase pitches out of the zone too often: His chase percentage of 22.3% is in the upper echelon of MLB batters, ranking in the 89th percentile.

It goes without saying that EE presents a difficult match-up for pitchers. He mashes in the zone, he’s one of the games best outside of the zone — what’s the game plan for opposing pitchers?

EE vs Pitch Type

I should preface this section with the following: Nearly every MLB hitter has trouble against one or two pitches. For example, since 2009 Jose Bautista is 3 for 47 (.064) with no extra base hits against curveballs.

Let’s start at the bottom for EE and work our way up.

Cold

EE has had trouble with two pitches — cutters and sinkers

Cutters: .161/.200/.194 , 0 HR in 35 PA

Sinkers: .231/.355/.269 , 0 HR in 31 PA (At least he’s getting on base)

Warming Up

The ‘Book’ on Edwin is to throw him sliders. His batting average against sliders is a parltry .236 mark. However, he’s slugging .455 against the pitch, including an HR rate of 6.5% per outcome.

Edwin handles curveballs, posting a stellar .365 wOBA vs the pitch that includes a .304 BA and .457 SLG

On Fire

Change-ups. Well, EE hits ‘em like he’s Ted Williams. Against changes Edwin is hitting .408, throwing up a 1.096 OPS and an insane .471 wOBA.

And fastballs? Edwin is in the 95th percentile in the MLB, posting video game like numbers vs the pitch, including .451 wOBA, 1.076 OPS and crazy .332 WHAV (well-hit-average).

I like to think that the slight struggles against cutters and sinkers are more than offset by his dominance against fastballs and change-ups.

Sum of Parts

I like to think that EE is a player that:

A) Mashes in the Zone

B) Doesn’t chase too often. When he does he’s one of the games best at translating chases into positive results

C) Eats fastballs and change-ups for breakfast. Holds his own against common off-speed offerings such as curveballs and sliders

Throw in Edwin’s willingness to do what’s best for the team by switching positions and his newfound ability to intelligently steal bases and I think the Jays receive a tremendous value by locking Edwin up at $9 million a season.

Notes: Stats, Heat Maps via Fan Graphs, ESPN True Media

has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +