Cleveland Indians: The reason behind Edwin Encarnacion’s surge

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: Abraham Almonte
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: Abraham Almonte /

Cleveland Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion is thriving over the past 11 games — and new-addition Jay Bruce deserves credit.

The Cleveland Indians addition of 1B Edwin Encarnacion brought ecstatic reactions from fans. But his slow April-start garnered a plethora of swift judgment.

While Encarnacion’s April-slash line of .200/.343/.353 was a legitimate concern (all statistics according to, other factors warrant consideration. While with the Toronto Blue Jays, Encarnacion was surrounded by AL MVP Josh Donaldson and home run-threat Jose Bautista.

Although Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley and Francisco Lindor are significant offensive threats — they lack the power necessary to help Encarnacion. Knowing this, Indians brass delivered for manager Terry Francona.

More from Factory of Sadness

The acquisition of outfielder Jay Bruce from the New York Mets, in exchange for Lake County Captains reliever Ryder Ryan (who holds a plus-five ERA at Single-A) is a game changer.

The Indians ownership team, consisting of the Dolans and Shermans, proved once again their commitment to the organization — picking up the rest of Bruce’s $3.7 million salary (something the New York Yankees declined to do). Since trading for Bruce, the Indians are 8-3.

Primarily batting behind Encarnacion, it’s apparent the former-Mets slugger benefits from the Indians superior lineup.

Examining the first 10 games of his pairing with Encarnacion, excluding Sunday’s loss to the Kansas City Royals, Bruce’s numbers speak for themselves:

Standard Batting

Provided by View Original Table

In fact, the Indians averaged 5.4 runs/game during the 10-game stretch. The total is slightly above their season-average of 4.9 runs-per-contest. Although, considering the injuries plaguing the Tribe’s lineup, the .5-run improvement is substantial. That said, the starting pitching’s dominance has eased pressure on the offense.

Perhaps, the most important side-effect of the Bruce-trade is Encarnacion’s aforementioned tear in their first 10 games together. In 467 Bruce-less plate appearances with the Indians, Encarnacion’s numbers were solid, but left much to the fanbase’s imagination.

While respectable, the former-Blue Jay’s .250/.369/.464 slash-line without Bruce doesn’t tell the entire story. Alarmingly, Encarnacion is well on his way to the highest strikeout total of his career. He may still set his own forgettable, personal record — but his strikeout numbers are down with Bruce in the lineup (albeit, a small sample size).

With just six strikeouts in 44 plate-appearances, Encarnacion is beginning to see pitches to hit. His .270/.386/.757 slash-line during the 10-game stretch is evidence of Bruce’s impact. Encarnacion also hit six home runs during the torrid stretch.

Given the small sample size, it’s too early to celebrate the duo as elite — but it’s a strong start. It’s possible the Cleveland Indians are just now seeing their $20 million investment come fully to fruition.

Next: Time to thank the Dolans

In hindsight, it’s preposterous to think all it cost the Indians was $3.7 million and a no-name relief prospect to acquire Bruce, a three-time All-Star. The incompetence of the New York Mets organization played perfectly into the Indians’ hands.