HomeTeamsBlue JaysCan Encarnacion Help Guide Guerrero Jr. To Greater Heights?

Can Encarnacion Help Guide Guerrero Jr. To Greater Heights?

You may have noticed Edwin Encarnacion sitting in the Toronto Blue Jays dugout of late, kibbitzing with the players, taking in the action.

Encarnacion has a special place in the hearts of Jays fans, a key cog on those teams the last time the organization was truly great – 2015, and into 2016.

Watching Marcus Stroman pitch yesterday for the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre – a game the Yankees came back to win, late, 6-4 – was a time machine experience for fans, back to when he started out in MLB, leading a Jays pitching staff that also had David Price, Marco Estrada, and R.A. Dickey.

That was the season of the memorable American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers marked by the Jose Bautista bat flip homerun. The Jays would fall to the eventual World Series-winning Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series in six games.

Encarnacion was homerun-hitting beast – he clubbed 39 in 2015, with 111 RBIs. Besides the great Bautista, the Jays also had a league MVP in Josh Donaldson, and added Troy Tulowitzki in a late summer trade. That team could rake.

Encarnacion, as a Blue Jays special assistant to baseball operations, is back to steward Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who, yes, won the MLB’s homerun hitting contest at last summer’s all-star game, but hasn’t come close to matching his mercurial 2021, when he was in the MVP conversation (Shohei Ohtani would win it), smacking 48 HRs and 111 RBIs, with a .311 average, .401 OBP, 1.002 OPS, and a 6.8 WAR.

That was the first step in a career worthy of his Hall of Fame father, it was thought. But since 2021 it’s been a steady slide.

Last year he clubbed 26 HRs with 94 RBIs. Most people wouldn’t complain about that, but much more is expected, and is one of the reasons, we are guessing, that the organization is keeping it’s powder dry when it comes to granting Guerrero Jr. a long-term contract. They went to arbitration this past winter, with Guerrero Jr. winning, getting another one-year deal, this one at $19.9 million (a record salary awarded through a hearing).

You have to wonder where this Jays team is heading after 19 games (currently 10-9, three games off the pace in the AL East). They took two out of three in that Yankees series that just wrapped, but it was the starting pitching that paced them – Chris Bassitt, Yusei Kikuchi, and Kevin Gausman (the bullpen let Gausman down yesterday).

It certainly wasn’t the offence. You have to wonder how many homeruns this team is capable of hitting this season, a far cry from that 2021 team – Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien, hitting 45 HRs and 102 RBIs, Bo Bichette, with 191 hits, leading the team, Teoscar Hernandez, with 32 HRs and 116s. That team would bludgeon opponents.

The Jays are going nowhere in that loaded AL East this season if the hitting doesn’t pick up.

Guerrero Jr. has three homers so far, with eight RBIs, a .211 average and a .715 OPS.

It’s early, we know, but here’s hoping a fellow Dominican and three-time all-star can impart some wisdom that helps further propel the Jays first baseman at the plate. There is so much value Encarnacion can bring, especially on the mental strength side. Because Edwin Encarnacion has been through it.

These are the littler touches in a clubhouse that can make all the difference in the world.

The Blue Jays are in San Diego, tomorrow, for the first game in a series against the Padres (9:40 p.m. EST first pitch; Yariel Rodriguez versus Matt Waldron).


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