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Another Bomber Comes to the Bronx - Edwin Encarnacion Relocates


Even beset by injuries on all fronts, including to core-performers Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Luis Severino, the New York Yankees have managed to stay on top in the American League East. But it's just by one-half game over Tampa Bay - not to mention that they've lost eight of their last 13 games. In order to continue to hold off the Rays, as well as third-place defending champs Boston, the Yankees would need to make some upgrades to their roster, even with Judge and Stanton due to rejoin the team this week.

Upgrades are needed in the starting rotation, as  Domingo German recently joined Severino on the IL with a hip injury. Upgrades are needed in the infield too, as Giovanny Urshela has come back to earth in June, with only a .253 wOBA and 54 wRC+ since the month began. A left-handed upgrade would be even better, as the Yankees have only Didi Gregorius and switch-hitting Aaron Hicks to break up the string of right-handed power bats which permeate the New York lineup.

But whether favoring a starter or a left-handed bat, all sides could agree on what the Yankees did not need. Right-handed power. So naturally, the Yankees did the most Yankees thing possible - traded for right-handed power. Edwin Encarnacion is the newest Bronx Bomber and brings with him the power that's made him the AL leader with 23 HR. Now that he's a Yankee, what can his fantasy owners expect moving forward?

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"I've Got DiPoto On Line Three"

When savvy GMs have a need, it's to Seattle's roster where their eyes go first. Brian Cashman was no different, trading 19-year-old pitcher Juan Than to DiPoto's rebuilding Mariners for the 36-year-old Encarnacion, whose 284 HR since 2012 are the most by any player in the majors over that same period.

In Encarnacion, the Yankees are getting one of the game's steadiest performers, whose "down" year of 2018 was still 32 HR and 107 RBI.  Besides the aforementioned league-leading 23 HR, Encarnacion has had power numbers across the board in 2019 with a .377 wOBA - that's actually eight points lower than his xWOBA of  .385 - and a 13.2% Barrel rate and .290 ISO that are both career-highs.

In the Yankees, Encarnacion is getting a home stadium which is one of the friendliest venues for power in all of baseball. Of the Yankee's remaining 92 games, 46 will come at Yankee Stadium, whose HR park-factor of 112 is the highest in baseball over the past three years. Not that Encarnacion has to be told this - the 18 home runs he's hit there are the second-most he's hit at any road venue. Where has he hit the most? That would be Fenway, home of his new division-rival Red Sox, and where Encarnacion will play 10 more games this season.

Besides the 10 games in Boston, the Yankees also have nine combined games at Baltimore, Texas, and Minnesota - three venues that have park-factors for right-handed power in the top-eight. And the Yankees still have seven road games in Toronto, where Encarnacion called home for over seven seasons - and where he has hit 115 career HR.

 

Fitting E5 In

Manager Aaron Boone has said that Encarnacion will serve as the team's primary DH, with him also spelling Luke Voit occasionally at first. With Stanton likely to return on June 18th, and Aaron Judge following close behind - likely returning a few days later - the Yankees will quickly see a roster crunch that will likely move bump Urshela out at third base in favor of DJ LeMahieu. This leaves them with a likely lineup of:

Since 2017
Bats Pos wOBA wRC+
1. DJ LeMahieu R 3B 0.335 95
2. Aaron Judge R RF 0.412 161
3. Giancarlo Stanton R LF 0.385 121
4. Gary Sanchez R C 0.349 118
5. Aaron Hicks S CF 0.355 123
6. Edwin Encarnacion R DH 0.362 126
7. Didi Gregorius L SS 0.343 114
8. Luke Voit R 1B 0.384 142
9. Gleyber Torres R 2B 0.351 121

When the Yankees add to a strength, they really add to a strength, as the most likely spot in the order for the AL home run leader is down at sixth. With Encarnacion, New York has a lineup that will be incredibly difficult to navigate for any pitching staff, because even if Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez can be handled, massive power still awaits with Encarnacion and beyond. While this does seemingly make the Yankee's lineup even more unbalanced in regards to handedness, it may play less so, because since 2017 Encarnacion actually has better power numbers versus right-handers than against lefties. He is posting an OPS that's 35 points higher, as well as respective differences in SLG and ISO of 65 and 45 points, with a batting average that's 20 points higher.

With an average NFBC ADP of 135, Encarnacion has rewarded his fantasy owners with first-round numbers - 23 HR, 48 R, and 49 RBI. Those numbers came hitting around the likes of Dan Vogelbach, Mallex Smith, and Kyle Seager. Now Encarnacion moves to the middle of a fearsome Yankee's lineup and those production rewards should continue to be reaped as RBI opportunities should abound with him now hitting behind the likes of Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez. Whether needing to continue counting on his steady production or needing him to be a big trade-chip to fill other holes, fantasy owners are sure to keep loving Steady Eddie in his new home on the east coast.

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