Toronto Blue Jays fans must be feeling down, after news broke out on Thursday evening that first baseman Edwin Encarnacion signed a 3-year, $60 million deal with the Cleveland Indians.
In his last 5 seasons with Toronto, the 33-year-old established himself as one of the best sluggers in all of baseball – driving in 193 home runs, to go along with the 2nd highest RBI total of 550. Encarnacion was a huge part of the Blue Jays’ recent success, helping lead the franchise to back-to-back trips to the ALCS, while breaking a 22-year playoff drought.
One of the greatest players to put on a Blue Jay uniform, Encarnacion will always be remembered for leaving his mark by producing when the team needed him most. He had his fair share of moments with the ball club, ones that will forever be remembered in Blue Jays history.
5. Breakout season in 2012
After being traded to the Blue Jays from the Cincinnati Reds back in 2010, Encarnacion was slowly making a name for himself by playing at a solid rate in his first 2 seasons with the ball club.
In 2012, Encarnacion fully burst onto everyone’s radar; becoming the perfect one-two punch alongside Jose Bautista. It was arguably his best season as a pro to this date, with him posting a career-best .280 batting average, a career-high 42 HRs, to go along with 152 hits, 110 RBIs, and 84 walks in 151 at-bats. He’d also unleash his former famous “Edwing” celebration, sticking out his right arm and making it parallel towards the ground in every HR he hit to symbolize how an airplane turns. Fans in Toronto also helped bring in it to life, with the Edwing symbolizing him “walking the parrot.”
Encarnacion’s breakout season wouldn’t be enough for the then-lowly Jays to crack the postseason, but it was still a season to remember for the franchise’s faithful; with the Dominican Republic native delivering hope for better days ahead.
4. Home Run hat-trick in 2015
In the late stages of the 2015 MLB campaign, Encarnacion would arguably have one of the best performances of his 12-year MLB career in a game on Aug. 29th against the Detroit Tigers.
It didn’t take long for Encarnacion to make his presence felt in the contest – smacking in a 3-run HR in the bottom of the 1st inning to give his team a 3-0 lead. Five innings later, with his Blue Jays holding a 7-1 lead, the designated hitter would get back to it; striking a 2-run shot over the left field wall for a 11-1 lead. An inning later, a sold-out Toronto crowd would go into a frenzy and cheer Edwin on to see if he could hit one more. With the bases loaded he’d deliver, by smashing a grand slam over the right-field wall.
The crowd would honour the HR hat-trick by doing a hockey-style tribute and throwing their hats onto the field. Edwin finished the game going 3-5, with 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, and continued his hitting streak at the time to an incredible 24 games. He’d finish with 25 consecutive games with a hit, 3 shy of Shawn Green’s record of 28 set in 1999.
3. 300th career HR
Encarnacion’s 300th career HR was extremely special, with the majority of his long balls coming during his tenure with the Blue Jays.
When he was on the Reds, Encarnacion was a sub-par baseball player who racked up a total of 66 HRs with the ball club in 5 seasons. His 300th career HR marked his 234th HR with the Blue Jays, slotting him amongst some of the greatest sluggers to ever play in Toronto. This milestone wasn’t just about numbers, it was about all of the hard work that Encarnacion had gone through to get to his milestone.
The 33-year-old ultimately finished his Blue Jays tenure in 3rd place on the Blue Jays’ all-time HR list with 239, only behind Jose Bautista (265), and Canadian baseball HOFer Carlos Delgado (336).
2. Game-tying solo HR in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers
The incredible 7th inning of Game 5 in the 2015 ALDS between the Texas Rangers and the Blue Jays would have been a long shot without the heroics of Edwin Encarnacion.
In the bottom of the 6th inning with an out and no one on base, Encarnacion stepped up to the plate against a red-hot Cole Hamels; who only allowed a single run at the time. With his team down 2-1 and looking for answers, Encarnacion stepped up and came up clutch for his squad with a solo blast all the way up to the 2nd deck of Rogers Centre to tie the game at 2-2. The HR was exactly what the Blue Jays needed at the time, with them desperately looking for a spark while going against one of the best pitchers in the game.
Encarnacion’s bomb would do wonders, with the Blue Jays rallying back to complete their comeback and reach the ALCS for the first time in 22 years.
1. Wild Card-winning 3-run walk-off HR against the Baltimore Orioles
Encarnacion had some outstanding moments during his 7-year tenure with the Blue Jays, but nothing was more memorable than his 3-run walk-off HR against the Baltimore Orioles in this season’s Wild Card game.
After Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson came through with a couple of base hits, a sold-out crowd stood up and awaited Encarnacion to step up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning. It wouldn’t take long for the first baseman to deliver, smashing the first pitch he was thrown over the left field wall to take his team back to the ALDS. Rogers Centre was rocking, with over 50,000 Blue Jays fans going absolutely berserk while Incarnation rounded the bases with his famous Edwing celebration.
They’d fall short to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, but Encarnacion’s clutch walk-off home run will always be remembered as his last and greatest moment as part of the Blue Jays.
All stats for this article are from MLB.com
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