Encarnacion Aims To Bring Power Surge To White Sox

The White Sox hit just 182 homers in 2019, the third-fewest in the AL.

Bruce Levine
January 09, 2020 - 3:54 pm
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(670 The Score) In signing designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, the White Sox had a simple goal in mind. They wanted another jolt of power in their lineup after watching the Twins win the AL Central crown on the strength of an MLB-record 307 homers last season.

Meanwhile, the White Sox hit just 182 homers in 2019, the third-lowest mark in the American League. They hope to have narrowed that gap with the additions of Encarnacion, catcher Yasmani Grandal and outfielder Nomar Mazara this offseason.

"We are very pleased to add someone of his caliber to the lineup," general manager Rick Hahn said in a conference call Thursday. "The numbers speak for themselves with him being a continuing dangerous presence and outstanding source of power for the last decade-plus."

Encarnacion, who turned 37 on Tuesday, has 414 homers in his career, including an MLB-best 297 since the start of the 2012 season. His power surge hasn't slowed in recent seasons, as he hit 34 homers in time split between the Mariners and Yankees last season and 32 for the Indians in 2018.

What are the key elements to his consistency?

"I continue to work hard in the offseason and stick to my program," Encarnacion said. "I have always tried to take care of my body. This is what I try to do every day and in particular the last couple of years."

The White Sox received poor production from their designated hitter position in 2019, with just 17 homers and a .641 OPS. Encarnacion hit .244 with 34 homers, 86 RBIs and an .875 OPS in 109 games last season.

Encarnacion also has significant playoff experience, having played in the last five postseasons. The White Sox haven't advanced to the playoffs since 2008.

"We feel Edwin will not only improve our run-scoring capability but be a significant positive within our clubhouse as well," Hahn said. "Yasmani and Edwin have been in the postseason each of the last five years. Dallas Keuchel has been in postseason four of the last five years as well. That is a tremendous track record for them but also speaks to what we are trying to accomplish not just on the field but taking that next step in our clubhouse. It's about our young core growing together and learning how to win. Edwin is another piece in trying to accomplish that."

Encarnacion is happy to help push the White Sox to their playoff goal. 

"My great experience will help," Encarnacion said. "I hope to continue that (playoff) streak. You try to be consistent and not put extra pressure on yourself. You just try to do what you always do. That is what they can learn."

Encarnacion will be the White Sox's primary designated hitter but will also play some games at first base to give Jose Abreu a break too, Hahn said. 

Encarnacion signed a one-year, $12-million deal that includes a $12-million team option with no buyout for 2021. The sides expressed mutual interest early in the offseason, then the discussions grew more serious at the Winter Meetings in early December.

"They have a young, talented group of players," Encarnacion said. "I am very excited to be a part of this team. I think this team has a great future. I am happy to be with them and help them make the playoffs.

"From the other side what I have seen is (my new teammates) are very smart hitters. They have a great idea of what they are doing at the plate. I am very close to Eloy Jimenez. He is one of the kids I have known since he was 14 years old. I have done a lot of work with him. He is already a great hitter. The other young guys also have a great idea of what they want to do at the plate."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.