Edwin Encarnacion made an impact on the Seattle Mariners, despite making just 65 appearances for them.
Ever since Richie Sexton suddenly fell off in regards to his production, first base has been a black hole for the Seattle Mariners. Despite their attempts to find production through trades, free agency, or in bringing players from the minors, the Mariners have typically had subpar production at one of the premier offensive positions in the game.
This past decade was no different. In total 16 different players made an appearance at first, with none of those players even receiving 500 appearances in a Mariners uniform. Just one of those players, Justin Smoak, appeared in over 250 games for the franchise.
In fact, the best player to appear at first for the Mariners was a player who was not expected to even put on their uniform. Of those 16 players, Edwin Encarnacion posted a 1.6 fWAR, the highest total of any player to appear at first for the Mariners in the past decade. Even more amazingly, he did this in just 65 games.
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Encarnacion was part of a three team trade involving the Rays and Indians. Carlos Santana, who was a salary dump by the Phillies, was sent to Cleveland, as was Jake Bauers. The Rays received Yandy Diaz and Cole Sulser, with the Mariners receiving Encarnacion, cash considerations, and the Indians’ competitive balance draft pick.
Encarnacion was expected to be quickly dealt as well, possibly even to the Rays in a separate trade. Instead, he opened the season with the Mariners, posting a solid .241/.356/.531 batting line, hitting 21 homers in 289 plate appearances before being traded to the Yankees.
While Encarnacion was solid during his tenure with the Mariners, it also speaks volumes as to how much the franchise struggled to find production. Even the second best player at first in terms of fWAR, Austin Nola, was an afterthought – a 29 year old minor league journeyman who was pressed into action. First base has been a major need throughout the decade.
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Edwin Encarnacion was not supposed to be a part of the Seattle Mariners. Instead, he turned out to be their best first baseman in the past decade.