DJ LeMahieu was the offensive star in Game One of the ALDS for the New York Yankees. In Game Two, Didi Gregorius got the big hit with a grand slam. Although he has not stolen the show, Edwin Encarnacion has consistently squared up pitches in this series.
After playing in ten games combined through August and September due to two different injuries, Encarnacion has shown no rust from the time off. That trend continued in Saturday’s 8-2 rout of the Minnesota Twins.
Not Missing A Beat
Edwin Encarnacion is off to a hot start against the Twins. In two games, he has four hits in nine at bats and two RBI. His slash line is .444/.500/1.167 in the ALDS. This includes an RBI single in Game Two which started the Yankees scoring in the bottom of the first inning.
This has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees given that Encarnacion was unable to get healthy in time to play in the final games of the season. Ultimately, he played in several simulated games after the regular season, but before the series started in order to get his reps in and ensure his health.
The concerns that held Encarnacion out were legitimate. He did not feel as though he was one hundred percent healthy, and the fear was that he may re-injure his strained oblique if he came back too soon. Despite an uncertain ending to the regular season, it looks certain that he came back at the perfect time.
Encarnación comes off the IL and rakes.
He’s like the guy in Summer School who spent the whole movie in the bathroom and still got the highest score on the test.
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) October 5, 2019
Impact On The Lineup
This is a great sign for the Yankees as they look to wrap up the series in Minnesota. Encarnacion is a quintessential professional hitter. He has hit fourth in each of the first two games of the series, and his presence in the clean-up in the batting order will be crucial to the Yankees success.
Encarnacion accrued 132 at bats and 155 plate appearances in 34 games this season from that spot in the lineup. In that time, his slash line is .280/.374/.598. Those are numbers are easily his best of any spot in the lineup that he has hit in in more than 20 games. Additionally, his lowest strikeout percentage comes when hitting fourth. He also has 13 of his 34 home runs from that spot this season.
It goes without saying that Encarnacion is deadly offensive weapon when healthy. However, he is a weapon that appears to be most comfortable hitting fourth in the batting order. Given that Encarnacion is proving he is not rusty after a long lay off and the the Yankees success scoring 18 runs in the first two games of the series, it appears likely that Encarnacion will not be moved from that spot in the lineup any time soon.
Hitting In the Playoffs
The Yankees can also feel good about Encarnacion because of history in the playoffs. In 112 playoff plate appearances, Encarnacion’s slash line is a respectable .257/.359/.426, but he also can come through in the clutch. One such clutch moment was his heroic walk-off home run in the 11th inning of 2016 AL Wild Card game for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Encarnacion may not have been the big star in the first two games, but he has been consistent with his at bats in the series. Now he looks to continue his consistency out of the spot in the lineup where he does his best hitting. His performance since returning from the injured list bodes well for a Yankee team that is looking for a sweep on Monday in Minnesota.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images