Last Thursday, the Mariners were involved in a fun three team trade, bringing Edwin Encarnacion to the Northwest. Though how long he remains there is anyone’s guess. First, there was a report that Encarnacion was going to be flipped to the Rays, but then soon after word was that he wasn’t going anywhere. So let’s pretend he’s now in Seattle for good. How might the change in parks affect the soon-to-be 36 year old? Let’s check the 2017 park factors.
Well gee golly, this is nearly a clean sweep for Progressive Field (Indians)!
Let’s start with the plate discipline factors. Progressive played neutral for strikeouts in 2017, while Safeco Field (Mariners) inflated them by 6%. Not too long ago, one of Encarnacion’s major strengths was his contact ability, leading to a better than league average strikeout rate, which was made even more impressive when coupled with his power. But like many aging veterans in their mid-30s, that skill has deteriorated in recent years as both his SwStk% and strikeout rate jumped to career highs. Any chances of a rebound here were reduced by the park switch.
The walk rate factors are nearly identical, with Progressive holding the slightest of edges. Encarnacion has now posted double digit walk rates every season since 2012, but his 2018 mark was actually his lowest during that period, as his O-Swing% spiked to the highest mark since 2010. Seems like another clear sign of age-related decline.
On to the batted ball type factors, Progressive once again holds the advantage in line drives, in which it boosts them by 2% versus Safeco suppressing them by 6%. Pop-up factors tell a similar story, but hint at an even greater advantage for Progressive. Encarnacion has never been a big line drive hitter, as his career high sits at just 21.6%. The park switch won’t help him set a new career high. Amazingly, Encarnacion has posted a sub-10% IFFB% just once in his entire career. That, along with his 40%+ fly ball rate explains much of his weak BABIP marks.
The two parks are identical in singles factors, as they both suppress the hit type by 4%. But Progressive holds a decent advantage in doubles, a hit type Encarnacion hasn’t recorded many of these past two years. Because he has been so awful at knocking doubles, I can’t imagine him finishing any worse than he has. We don’t care that Safeco is less pitcher friendly for triples, as Encarnacion has hit just 10 in his entire career.
Returning to Progressive advantages, we find that the two parks are almost even in right-handed homers, with Cleveland getting the edge, but overall, Progressive smoked Safeco. I would have never guessed that the Basic park factors would differ so drastically. This means that Progressive increased offense by 8%, while Safeco suppressed offense by 10% in 2017. That’s a big swing!
It’s not always so obvious when comparing park factors, but this is an easy call. The move to Safeco is a clear negative for Encarnacion’s fantasy value. Add in his age and the skills decline we have already been witnessing, and it’s likely he makes for a poor value on draft day.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.