It’s Time To Dump E5

When talking about a player’s defensive value, you will almost never hear things like errors or fielding percentage discussed on FanGraphs. These metrics have all kinds of problems, and we simply have better ways to evaluate the abilities of defenders nowadays. Occasionally, errors and fielding percentage do tell the story correctly, however. For instance, I present Edwin Encarnacion.

The Blue Jays began the season with E5 as their starting third baseman. He’s played 141 innings in 16 games at the position this year during which time he has already made eight errors, tying him for the league lead among third baseman. The man he is tied with, Mark Reynolds, has played 430 innings at third base this year. Encarnacion has made the same amount of errors as the league leader in 1/3 of the playing time.

Or, if you want to look at it from a fielding percentage standpoint, his mark at third base this year is .784. The next lowest mark of any semi-regular player in baseball is Andy LaRoche at .892. How low is E5’s fielding percentage? Let’s just put it this way – Jose Bautista slugging percentage is higher than Encarnacion’s fielding percentage at third base. Disenchanted with his play at third, the Jays have recently used Encarnacion more at first base; he has the lowest fielding percentage in baseball of any first baseman too.

In 200 innings in the field, he has made 11 errors. A normal everyday position player will rack up about 1,300 defensive innings over the course of the season – at this rate, over a full season, Encarnacion would finish the year with about 70 errors. Seventy.

Teams have been putting up with E5’s defensive issues over the years in order to get his bat into the line-up, but this year, he’s not even providing any offensive value – he’s hitting just .237/.262/.324, he’s without a home run, and he’s decided to just stop walking. His ZIPS projection over the rest of the season is .247/.313/.427, good for a .328 wOBA that would make him roughly a league average hitter.

A league average hitter who is also one of the worst defensive players in baseball is not a Major Leaguer. The Blue Jays have resisted bringing up top prospect Brett Lawrie from Triple-A Las Vegas, in part because his defense at third base is also not very good, but there’s no way the Blue Jays should continue to pencil Encarnacion’s name into the line-up. He’s an absolute disaster in the field, and his bat simply doesn’t even come close to making up for it.

Despite their current three game losing streak, Toronto should have some hopes for contending for the wild-card this year. They’re only four games behind the Red Sox and Yankees, have scored more runs than they’ve allowed, and have the game’s best hitter anchoring a solid line-up. If they patch a few holes and keep their pitchers relatively healthy, the Jays could stay in the race all summer.

If they’re not convinced that Lawrie is ready yet – and remember, Las Vegas is a hitter’s paradise, so you have to deflate his Triple-A numbers by a good amount – they should still be able to find a competent alternative at third base. There’s no reason that the Jays should continue to put up with a never-ending series of errors from one of the worst defenders the sport has seen in a long time.

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Dave is a co-founder of and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

72 Responses to “It’s Time To Dump E5”

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  1. Joel says:


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    • Tom Jackson says:

      Believe me Joel, that number sells short how much of a butcher he’s been. He could’ve had four errors in a game at 1st base on the last home stand, but I think the official scorekeeper felt sorry for him and only assigned him two. Add in those two and you’ve got 13 errors, which probably drives the prorated total to about 80-85 errors. Even the 19th century infielders are convulsing with laughter in their graves at his plight. E5/E3’s fielding as Warren Zevon (RIP) once sang: “Ain’t That Pretty at All”.

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    • bc says:

      ^Tom Jackson is right. I saw that game too and the scorer was very generous to E5. He made four error in that game. And we’re not talking throws from across the diamond. He was playing first. He was tossing balls over the head of the pitcher covering first. This guy could get throwing errors as a DH.

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      • Jeff O says:

        I never comment but just had to jump in – I also attended that game and it is a disgrace that he wasn’t attributed with four errors. There could have been a fifth were it not for a great leaping catch by Arencibia in early innings when Encarnacion threw the ball to home plate.

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  2. Omar says:

    “have the game’s best hitter anchoring a solid line-up”

    That is certainly debatable.

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    • Hacksaw Jim Duggan says:

      I think Jose Molina has batted 5th for them a bunch of times this year. Yikes.

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      • Ian R. says:

        To be fair, Jose Molina is actually hitting very well right now, at .296/.367/.444. Now, I don’t expect him to keep hitting anywhere near that level (his OPS is 190 points higher than his career mark, and Toronto isn’t THAT good of a hitters’ park) but as of right now, batting him fifth is defensible.

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      • kevin says:

        Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The man!!!! From great old Glens Falls New York…My hometown!! And Yes you are right, Molina hitting fifth is laughable, they should have Arencibia or Lawrie (when he comes up) 5th.

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    • prankmunky says:

      Future production is always debatable but over the course of the last 162 games (or more), Jose Bautista is the games best hitter.

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      • siggian says:

        The debatable point might be the “solid line-up” part when you consider the high number of at bats for McDonald, Nix, Encarnacion, Rivera, etc. .

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    • Tom Jackson says:

      Since Sep 5, 2009, Jose Bautista is without question, the game’s best hitter. 230 G, 991 PA with a .278/.398/.653/1.051 slash line, and 169 R, 46 2B, 6 3B, 83 HR, 177 RBI, 153 BB, 165 K kinda ends the debate. 162 Game Avg:

      119 R, 32 2B, 4 3B, 58 HR, 125 RBI, 108 BB, 116 K

      If you want to argue that that’s not long enough, fair enough, but 1,000 PA is probably significant enough to say he ain’t turning back into a pumpkin any time soon, and no current player’s last 1,000 PA can beat what he’s done.

      His 120.7 fangraphs RAR, and 12.6 fangraphs WAR since Sep 1, 2009 also lead the pack in that time, so he’s the best overall player in the game as well.

      As for the “anchoring a solid lineup” comment made by Dave in the article, while it certainly doesn’t look solid if you look at each of the individual components, the team has currently scored 4.46 R/G, which ranks them tied for sixth in MLB R/G, though they’re fractions of one-one hundredth of a run ahead of the team they’re tied with (the Cubs), which makes them sixth. I don’t know about you, but a lineup that’s scoring runs at a rate that’s good enough to put it in the top 20% of all the teams in MLB is pretty darn solid to me. Sure, there’s a block of teams that are way ahead of them (NYY, CLE, CIN, STL and BOS), but they’re currently at the head of that second tier and that’s solid in my book.

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      • chuckb says:

        The debatable part is how solid the lineup around him is. It’s not really debatable that he’s the game’s best hitter right now.

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    • BTS says:

      “That is certainly debatable.”

      Not really.

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      • Will says:

        Bautista has been worth 4.9 WAR so far this season. The rest of the Blue Jays line up has been worth 4.0 (Jays – Bautista = the 9th worst offense in baseball).

        I don’t think people are debating whether Bautista is the best hitter, they’re debating whether the Jays line up is “solid”.

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  3. Renegade says:

    I hope you’re talking about the ‘solid lineup’ part

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    • Omar says:

      I was, there isn’t much there nowadays other than Bautista, Escobar and JPA.

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      • Adam says:

        Lind is good too.

        But yeh, there are a lot of holes in that line-up, not just E5. Like, what the hell happened to Aaron Hill?

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  4. Ben says:

    “The Blue Jays began the season with E5 as their starting their baseman.”
    Somehow the first time I read it, my brain processed it as third basemen.

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  5. Halycon says:

    Jays 3B – 0 for last 35 ABs. Call up Lawrie already. Ugh.

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    • Parker says:

      Exactly. There is a reason why the Jays gave up a stud like Marcum for him…..he can hit. If the Jays want to compete for the playoffs, Lawrie should be brought up ASAP.

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      • Torgen says:

        If the Jays wanted to compete for the playoffs, they would have improved at any position this offseason.

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  6. Llewdor says:

    Lawrie’s glovework at 3B might be “not very good”, but “not very good” is miles better than what E5 can manage.

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  7. Person says:

    Whenever Encarnacion’s name comes up, I am always reminded of Tom Verducci claiming he was just as good as Ryan Zimmerman. Of course, this was before Zimmerman’s 2009 season, but now the comparison just seems laughable.

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  8. Mike B. says:

    Encarnacion was always lousy in the field, though his offensive implosion is staggering. In a mere 145 PA he’s already -1.1 WAR. I figured that E5 would wind up as a DH on a team like KC, though it seems now he’s more destined for the PBL (Peruvian Baseball League).

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  9. Austin says:

    I would be quite disappointed to see Encarnacion disappear, simply because E5 is just about my favorite nickname in baseball.

    +11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Brando says:

    I don’t think Lawrie’s glove will be as bad. Sure well have to replace him defensively late in games and probably have to bench him now and again. But having Lawrie ride the bench at this stage in his career isn’t as bad as having E5 there ruining our chances at the wildcard.

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  11. Rav says:

    Somewhere Mike Wilner is saying, “NOT YET!”

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  12. dREaDS fan says:

    Two Reds related thoughts:

    1) Larry Bowa used to jokingly ask Concepcion if his first name was Elmer because the scoreboard used to show E Concepcion so much. (I like E5 better … and besides Edwin already has the E in his first name …)

    2) Thanks for getting rid of this guy, Walt Jocketty. (And for getting Scott Rolen in return.)

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    • Greg W says:

      Jays also got Josh Roenike and Zach Stewart, so EE wasn’t the gem in the deal in the first place.

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  13. MGL says:

    Even the most error prone fielder in MLB is “only” worth minus half a win per season, so let’s not get carried away here. There are plenty of low-range fielders who are worth -5 runs.

    Now, E5 appears also not to have much range, at least according to his UZR, so all around, he seems to be a -10 runs or worse fielder. Again, there have been plenty of those around. Jeter comes to mind…

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  14. NoScoutHere says:

    Jose Bautista is the whole ” solid lineup”

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    • Tom Jackson says:

      The quote wasn’t “the game’s best hitter anchoring Murderer’s Row Redux”. It was “the game’s best hitter anchoring a solid lineup” and that’s an apt description of a lineup that has produced the 6th most R/G in a 30 team league. Solid.

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      • NoScoutHere says:

        Considering Bautista has more HRs then some teams whole lineup I will say again he “is” the whole lineup.

        Watch your precious R/G take a huge tumble when Bautista goes in a slump soon.

        I am a jays fan but not blind.

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  15. everdiso says:

    2010 wOBA/ops+:

    RF Bautista: .530woba/254ops+
    1B Lind: .369woba/138ops+
    C Arencibia: .350woba/125ops+ — Molina: .361woba/128ops+
    SS Escobar: .345woba/121ops+
    DH Thames: .338woba/111ops+ — Rivera: .296woba/86ops+
    LF Patterson: .321woba/107ops+ — Snider: .256woba/53ops+
    CF Davis: .288woba/77ops+
    2B Hill: .284woba/71ops+ — McDonald: .242woba/54ops+
    3B Nix: .283woba/66ops+– EE .262woba/64ops+ / (Lawrie AAA: .449woba)

    Careeer wOBA/ops+:

    RF Bautista: .358woba/117ops+
    1B Lind: .343woba/111ops+
    DH Thames: .338woba/111ops+ — Rivera: .334woba/105ops+
    C Arencibia: .327woba/107ops+ — Molina: .276woba/64ops+
    SS Escobar: .339woba/105ops+
    3B EE: .339woba/101ops+ — Nix: .293woba/76ops+ — (Lawrie AAA: .449woba)
    LF Snider: .322woba/97ops+
    2B Hill: .325woba/96ops+ — McDonald: .266woba/60ops+
    CF Davis: .323woba/90ops+ — Patterson: .306woba/81ops+

    I think overall, by either set of numbers, “solid” is a fair enough description of the Jays’ lineup.

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    • Mark says:

      Thames has less than 30 AB, Lind isn’t playing, and Snider is in the minors. 3B, LF, 2B and DH have been black holes. Jays 2B rank 6th worst by wOBA in the majors, 3B is 4th worst, LF are 16th, and DH is worst in the AL.

      I find it tough to argue they’re a “solid lineup” when 2 positions are what, 24th or worse in the majors, DH is worst in the AL, and LF is middle of the pack. Outside of Bautista, Escobar, Arencibia, and a healthy Lind there is no lineup.

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      • everdiso says:

        You can’t just make numbers up to try and make a point.

        AL RF: 110ops+
        TOR RF: 193ops+

        AL C: 87ops+
        TOR C: 120ops+

        AL 1B: 118ops+
        TOR 1B: 130ops+

        AL SS: 96ops+
        TOR SS: 115ops+

        AL CF: 106ops+
        TOR CF: 103ops+

        AL DH: 110ops+
        TOR DH: 77ops+

        AL LF: 83ops+
        TOR LF: 66ops+

        AL 2B: 91ops+
        TOR 2B: 60ops+

        AL 3B: 90ops+
        TOR 3B: 34ops+

        If you do it by position, then the Jays have received well above average production from 4 positions (RF, 1B, SS, C), average production from 1 position (CF), and well below average production from 4 positions.(DH, LF, 3B, 2B).

        Once again, no matter which way we slice it, “solid” is a fair enough description of the Jays’ lineup.

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      • everdiso says:

        and even more encouraging is that 3 of those below average slots may just be fixed soon enough with Thames (DH), Lawrie (3B), and Snider (LF).

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      • Matt M says:

        Can we agree on solid with some holes much like the rest of the baseball teams in the world? Or at least find the team without a below average player at any position.

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  16. tdotsports1 says:

    E5 was pretty solid with the stick last year, I might not give up on his bat yet, but his 3B D is appauling.

    I did a recent piece on Lawrie’s continued development and improved patience if anybody is interested. Included is a link to John Sickel’s recent scouting report after watching Lawrie live a few days ago.

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  17. ddriver80 says:

    One thing about E5.

    His glove isn’t the problem, and his range is better then UZR suggests. Its his throwing arm thats the huge problem, 90% of his errors come on throws.

    I’m not sure whats up with Toronto’s offense, but guys with large power potential (Hill, E5, etc.) just haven’t been ripping the ball into the bleachers like other years. E5 does have 12 doubles this year.

    Send him to AAA like last year, before he really got going, let him get his stroke back and stick him at DH.

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    • Matt Defalco says:

      Did you even read the article? Everything is a problem with him. There is no “it’s only this that’s hurting him.” Every single thing is wrong with him, even his facial hair.

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      • ddriver80 says:

        Of course I read the article. And I’m talking about the player, no need to come attack a post that was directed at readers of this thread.

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  18. Kevin says:

    As I mentioned in Klaassen’s chat yesterday, -65.9 UZR/150 at 3b. I nearly gagged when I first saw that.

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  19. Andy Frank says:

    Anthopoulous and Farrell have run this promising team into the turf in a matter of six horrible weeks.

    It began with moving Bautista to RF in anticipation of Lawrie eventually filling a complete and utter HOLE at 3b. When, in the history of baseball, has any major league org made a move like this in anticipation of a possible surge from a AA player?

    In the process, Travis Snider became expendable, as soon as he began to struggle, BAM, AAA – killing the kid’s confidence. Now, Corey Freaking Patterson is the full time LF.

    They pick up Rajai Davis to play CF and bat leadoff, only to have him hit eighth. So he’s effectively been neutered. They bring up David Cooper to help out, he plays good defensive 1b, hit a bit, but after 35 AB, they dumped him in favour of Juan freaking Rivera at 1b. It just goes on and on and on.

    Brett Cecil won 15 games last year, and is in AAA with no confidence. None of the closers AA picked up can get anyone out. The only saving grace this season has been the play of Lind, Bautista, Escobar, and JP Arencebia, who they ALMOST buried for another year had Rod Barajas signed (and they made that offer).


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    • tdotsports1 says:

      Wow. Where to begin?

      1. They moved Bautista to RF for Bautista’s sake, and not for a AA player as you suggest. Bautista is most comfortable in RF and when the best hitter in the league prefers a position, you listen.

      2. Travis Snider has become expendable? Hardly. He lost confidence and has swung better since going back down to the minors. He’ll be back when he is ready.

      3. They picked up Rajai Davis to do exactly what he has done. WHy bat a career .300 OBP guy leadoff? 8th or 9th seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      4. Brett Cecil struggled mightily, this is somehow a fault of the manager and GM?

      Maybe I just took the bait on an obvious troll, but not sure there is anything disastrous about the Jays other than the Lind injury and a few bullpen struggles.

      They are still hanging tough in the AL East last I checked.

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    • Tom Jackson says:


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    • everdiso says:

      Yet I’m guessing that the Jays’ current record is better than what you predicted they’d be at this year.

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  20. fdhjstf says:

    input this URL:
    you can find many cheap and fashion stuff

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  21. Do some research says:

    “If they’re not convinced that Lawrie is ready yet – and remember, Las Vegas is a hitter’s paradise, so you have to deflate his Triple-A numbers by a good amount –”

    Really, Dave? You can’t even be bothered to look up Lawrie’s home/road splits and see he’s been vastly better on the road this season? Really?


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    • Think harder says:

      Pretty sure a highly respected author like Cameron would at the very least do a cursory review of someone’s stats before writing an article on him. I’m also confident the author didn’t have to look up Lawrie’s stats to have a good idea what his home/road splits are, since they’ve been discussed quite a bit this year.

      His splits do very little to lessen Dave’s point. It simply makes a portion of his stats less impressive. Which makes his overall stats less impressive. You’ll note he doesn’t say “we don’t know if he can hit yet, since all his numbers need to be deflated” or even “his home park suggests he hasn’t really learned how to hit yet”. No. He points out the obvious point that is apparently over your head, that his overall stats are less impressive because of a good home hitting park.

      The fact is, his home stats are good, but not fantastic, and he is hitting in a great hitter’s park.

      Good thing you used a great word like “abhorrent” or else you’d look pretty dumb.

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      • Must be bored says:

        Wow, to write something THAT long to defend someone else? Really….man, you must be bored…

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      • ddriver80 says:

        And yet Cameron mentioned Cashman Field without looking at the splits obviously. Home park plays no factor for Lawrie while the league probably does. Poorly worded or poorly researched, you pick.

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    • Tom Jackson says:

      The truth is that the entire Pacific Coast League is a hitter’s paradise. Colorado Springs (tied for first with Reno in R/G at 7.02!) is just one of quite a few teams that play their home games at a high altitude, and I doubt the league uses humidors. In 2000 at the height of the explosive offensive era (so sick of the “S” word…sue me) from which MLB has just emerged teams across MLB combined for averages of:

      .270/.345/.437/.782, 5.14 R/G, 1.17 HR/G

      For reference, that’s the third highest OPS in MLB history, behind 1930 and 1894, and the highest SLG average and HR/G ever all the way back to 1871. The same numbers for the 2011 PCL so far:

      .280/.356/.438/.795, 5.49 R/G, 0.95 HR/G

      Outside of the HR, these guys might as well be playing with superballs and corked or aluminum bats. Therefore, any player’s numbers in that league should be taken with an entire truckload of salt. One should probably deflate both hitters and pitchers stats, but who knows by how much. Home/road splits mean nothing in the hitter’s haven that is the PCL.

      That being said, Lawrie is 3rd among 21 year olds in the league in OPS behind Anthony Rizzo (SDP: not called up yet) and Eric Hosmer (KCR: called up in the first week of May). The difference between Hosmer, Rizzo and Lawrie is that Hosmer and Rizzo have been 1B from the get go, while Lawrie is learning his new position on the fly. That takes time and repetitions, but apparently he’s progressing very well. I don’t think it’ll be much more than a month…maybe July 1st, which all things considered is fantastic, and shows that he’s a very quick learner. It’s tough watching replacement level garbage trotted out there night after night going a combined 0 for a million at 3B, but taking the long view, I think it will all have been worth it in the end.

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      • ykw says:

        re: Lawrie/PCL

        Sure, the league and/or its parks inflate/s offensive numbers, but that’s why we have stuff like OPS+ and wRC+ to compare production wrt other players facing similar conditions within their shared context. Lawrie’s 160 wRC+ suggests strongly that, even factoring in the PCL-related bump in output, he’s still performing at an exceptionally high level — certainly high enough to merit promotion (even if he’s only gonna DH, given the TBJ’s incredible lack of offense at that position) this late in the season, when he’s pretty obviously outside super-two arb territory (presuming such an animal even exists under the coming CBA).

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  22. Sniderlover says:

    That’s EE season’s line right? I am pretty sure he is hitting even worse as a 3B.

    It’s funny… he’s actually looked worse than the errors would suggest. He blows chunks at 1B too.

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  23. sc2gg says:

    In light of this article, I’m interested to know more information about who the worst fielders ever have been, and how E5 compares to them.

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  24. CircleChange11 says:

    I was just echoing what TJ said, the PCL (Pitcher Crucifixion League) is a hitter’s paradise.

    The whole league is basically Coors Field of the 90s, and has been for a long time.

    No real need to look up home/road splits when discussing the PCL.

    It’s the pro version of “Gorilla Ball” for those that followed college baseball 20 years ago.

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  25. greenfrog says:

    Lawrie will be up in mid to late June, Lind will be back in a week or two, so the Jays’ lineup should be much improved before long. Lawrie can start the majority of games at 3B, with McDonald and/or Nix backing him up. Butterfield can help Lawrie fine-tune his fielding. He’s a very good athlete. He should be fine at 3B, although it may take him a couple of seasons to become consistent at the position.

    The Jays may be hanging around the playoff picture, but teams are going to start separating themselves from the pack pretty soon. By the time August rolls around, playing .500 ball isn’t going to get it done.

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  26. Yuniesky Betancourt says:

    What about me??

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  27. RC says:

    “A league average hitter who is also one of the worst defensive players in baseball is not a Major Leaguer. ”

    There’s only 5 DHs in the AL with about 50 PA who have a higher wOBA than Encarcion’s ZIPS, so you’re clearly incorrect.

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  28. Strip Lights says:

    Its amazing…now our minds are going to change & more vast than ever before.

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  29. I like E5 best of all in baseball

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  30. Unlimited Juice says:

    Enjoyed reading this in 2015, in the afterglow of Edwin’s “bat trick”: . Glad EE has turned it around since 2011!!!

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