Edwin Encarnacion has been something of a sore point for me the past three years. The Reds have jerked him around quite a bit, never seeming satisfied with his production, and never fully committing to him at third base. I think this year will finally put an end to all of that.
Everyone will remember that the Reds sent him down to AAA in 2007 following a slow start. In hindsight it's possible that the Reds did the right thing (he came back and played well the rest of the season), or maybe Encarnacion would have bounced back anyway, but regardless of whether the Reds should have sent him down he still gave us all a lot to look forward to in 2008. If the Reds have a shot at the playoffs this year, they'll need some of their younger players to play better than they ever have to date, and I think EdE is one of the guys we can most reasonably expect to improve.
Encarnacion hit .309/.360/.488 in the second half of 2007, and I don't think that kind of line is outside the realm of possibility for him in 2008. He's still only 25 years old, and while it's just a gut feeling, I think he's finally getting used to playing at the major league level.
I am going to project him at .315/.365/.485, with 21 home runs, 90 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 152 games played. I'm fully willing to admit that it's an optimistic projection, but I've been a big Encarnacion fan since he first came up, and I've always thought he was underrated. Remember, this is a guy who was ALWAYS ranked behind Andy Marte, despite similar or better numbers. I won't complain too much about it, because Marte is a couple of years younger, it just always confused me that Encarnacion never seemed to generate any hype at all. It has certainly worked out though, and the Reds oughta be set at third base for the next few years.
I am also going to project that Encarnacion stays at third base for 2008. It simply doesn't make sense to move him to first base when the Reds already have Joey Votto and Adam Dunn (should Votto be traded) to play first. I realize that Dunn supposedly will never play first, but I'd definitely rather see him over there and out of left field than Encarnacion moving to first.
What do you guys think of Encarnacion for 2008?
Leave your projection for AVG/OBP/SLG / HR / RBI / SB / Games, and add commentary saying why you feel that way, and also toss in if you think Encarnacion will finish out the year at third.