We look at 2017 projections for Toronto Blue Jays’ Kendrys Morales and Edwin Encarnacion to see if the former can replace the latter
Let’s be honest. When the Toronto Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales, everyone was confused. “But, but…Edwin Encarnacion is still out there”. It didn’t take that long for the confusion to escalate into full blown anger. Heck, even Edwin feels the club moved too quickly to fill their needs. And, there is a section of folks out there that are holding on to that anger with all their might, refusing to accept that Morales just might be a solid replacement for The Bringer of Chicken Wings, which is an idea that is flawed in and of itself, but we’ll set that aside for a moment.
Instead, I wanted to look at a comparison between the two sluggers to really get a better sense of this argument. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, Blue Bird Banter compared Morales to another former Blue Jay, Adam Lind already. While, that would certainly be of interest to some, a direct comparison with Encarnacion might actually be more relevant since Lind is long gone and there were very few people upset to see him go to the point where they’ve followed him all the way to Washington. That said, let’s actually take a look at whether or not Morales can, in fact, fill Edwin’s Toronto coloured shoes.
When comparing players, in this context, it is pointless to look back at what they’ve done. The conversation would be over pretty quickly. Encarnacion mashed his way onto Toronto’s all time lists. Morales broke his leg on a walk off celebration. Past performances wouldn’t really yield much for a discussion on whether one can replace the other. To that end, we’ll look at 2017 projections for each of these big bats.
Already, we saw what Morales is expected to do in 2017. The full breakdown of the above info can be found in our original piece (HERE). But, to refresh your memory, here it is:
Here are the 2017 projections for Encarnacion:
So, the immediate answer, after looking at the projected numbers is that Morales would have a tough time filling in for Edwin. I mean, 8 fewer HR and ~20 fewer RBI is a big difference. Edwin is also predicted to appear in more games and score more runs. So, at first glance, this is kind of proving those lamenting the loss of Encarnacion correct. He is projected to outperform Morales in just about every category.
We should also mention that, despite seeing pictures of Morales getting some first base action, Edwin will chip in way more on the defensive side of things. AND, fans in Cleveland won’t be screaming for Encarnacion to call a cab for his efforts on the basepaths. Even though Edwin is not going to set any land speed records, he is certainly more valuable on the base paths than Morales.
All of that said, that doesn’t mean that Morales is, or will be, a total let down. As stated in our look at Morales 2017 projections, they may not be all that fair to him. He very well could surpass his run production when you consider that he is hitting in a more productive lineup than he did last season and he is moving to the AL East, which should provide a nice little boost to his power- think right field porch in Yankee Stadium.
We should also consider that looking at Morales in isolation is not overly useful, either. We have to look at him in the context of hitting in the Toronto Blue Jays lineup. It is not unthinkable that he could benefit greatly from hitting behind Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, or in front of Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin. No, he just might be an interesting compliment to this lineup. Of course, Edwin will also benefit from being in Cleveland’s lineup, which is certainly not lacking.
The problem with all of this is that we are trying to compare an addition with a subtraction. It may not be as simple as all that. Morales as replacement for Edwin is flawed way of thinking. One for one is a bad idea. There are multiple dominoes that come into play with this kind of exploration. For example, the presence of Morales means that Justin Smoak appears to be the favorite to start at first base. With Edwin, that wouldn’t be the case. Positive, or negative, Smoak in the lineup will have an impact on how well the Morales signing looks. For that matter, the presence (and health) of Steve Pearce will also impact this lineup, which will impact Morales’ final production.
If you boil it down, there is so much that goes into projecting a player’s performance that it is impossible to know for sure if Kendrys Morales can be an effective replacement for Edwin Encarnacion. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t really look at it this way, as hard as that is. Truth be told, there aren’t many players in baseball who could make you forget about the bat of Encarnacion.
For those of us who are still so fond of Edwin that we refuse to accept anyone as a replacement, the above projections won’t help with that. Rightly, or wrongly, Morales’ time in Toronto will forever be in the shadow of a giant parrot. Looking at each player in isolation doesn’t help remove that shadow. Of course, should the signing of Morales prove to result in winning, it will certainly help us all move on…just a little.
*Featured Image Credit: Keith Allison- cropped from original UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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