2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Christian-Encarnacion Strand is Here to Power Up Your Team

by Ryan Kirksey
2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Christian-Encarnacion Strand

Welcome to 2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Christian-Encarnacion Strand is Here to Power Up Your Team!

When Christian Encarnacion-Strand made his debut on Monday night against the San Francisco Giants, he was already setting records. He now is the player with the longest name in MLB history. But fantasy managers are in almost universal agreement that the long home runs that are sure to come will be much more interesting by the time the fantasy season is over.

In less than three seasons of minor league baseball, Encarnacion-Strand has proved he has some of the most prodigious pop we have ever seen come out of such a young bat. The Reds, as they have done all season, saw no reason to keep him on the farm and called him up to help in their stretch run to make the postseason.

What can we expect from CES over the next two months and is he worth your free agent dollars as surely one of the hottest pickups on the market today? Let's dive into the profile to see what he can do for our teams.

2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Christian-Encarnacion Strand

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Encarnacion-Strand has Elite Raw Power for a Prospect

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In his three minor league seasons, Christian Encarnacion-Strand (CES) has played 211 games. That adds up to about one and one-third of a major league season. In those 211 games, he has 56 home runs, which translates to a home run about every 3.75 games. Matt Olson, who leads the National League in home runs with 30, is averaging one home run about every 3.10 games. That should give you a sense of the type of power we are dealing with here when we begin to dissect CES.

On the traditional 40-80 power scale for prospects (where 40 is the lowest and 80 is the highest), CES is one of just 21 total players in all of the minor leagues this year to have at least 70 present and 70 future power. Of those 21 players, 10 of them are older than CES (23.6 years old). In fact, when you start to dig into the numbers, he starts to look a lot like uber-prospects Brett Baty and Jordan Walker. Both were called up much earlier in the season for the Mets and Cardinals, respectively. CES should have been up already as well, according to the power.

Among those 21 players, only two (Tristan Casas and Moises Gomez) have better bat control than CES. He often swings and misses too much of the time, with a strikeout rate of 25.5 percent last season. He needs to stop chasing a lot of balls out of the zone, but but there is patience, a keen eye, and an ability to hit to all fields here. This has approach has led him to a MINIMUM .296 average and .522 slugging percentage across his four minor league stops with the Twins and the Reds. He had 20 home runs in just 67 games against the best minor league pitchers this year. The consensus states that the power is projected by everyone to translate well to the Big Show.

Cincinnati Should Play the Rookie Everyday

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The corresponding move to CES's promotion to the majors was to send lightly-used corner infielder Kevin Newman to the Injured List. This signals to me a few things. First, it secures a spot on the bench for Nick Senzel moving forward. He will remain the fourth outfielder, which clears somewhat clears up first base, left field, right field, and DH. CES was the DH for his first major league game Monday, but that was likely just a "don't worry about the field in your first game" play, just go out and hit.

In an ideal scenario, Joey Votto comes off the field to DH. CES plays first, Spencer Steer plays primarily left field, and right field can platoon between Will Benson and Jake Fraley (with Fraley on the strong side). But, should it be needed, CES has been preparing for a number of roles in the minor leagues this year. In addition to first base and DH, he has multiple games at third base and in left field. That means he can spell Elly De La Cruz, Fraley, Steer, or Benson when needed. He might be their most versatile player moving forward.

Senzel, Benson, catcher Luke Maile, and Stuart Fairchild (when healthy) will make up the bench. The Reds don't employ a super-utility player like many teams do. Instead, they rotate days where De La Cruz, shortstop Matt McClain, and second baseman Jonathan India get days off or days at DH. The Reds are just fractions of decimal points away from a winning percentage that puts them in the playoffs. I am confident their best bats will be in the lineup every night.

What Can we Project for Christian Encarnacion-Strand?

Projection systems on sites like FanGraphs are in sync on what they project for CES. But the problem is none of them projected a late July call-up. Each of Steamer, ATC, and FGDC projected Encarnacion-Strand for about 28 games and 5-6 home runs. Those number need to be adjusted now to accommodate about 70 games, assuming he doesn't fall flat on his face at this level. But the important thing to look at in their consistent projections is the expected power.

All of the projection systems look for CES to have between a .475-.485 slugging percentage in the major leagues. His discerning eye (10% walk rate in AAA) will help him in that department as well. To put that in perspective, that's the same slugging percentage as Pete Alonso this season and would rank around the top-35 among all qualified hitters.

This is not a player to sleep on in your leagues and play the wait-and-see game and hope no one grabs him. If you are trailing in the power or RBI categories in your fantasy league, Christian Encarnacion-Strand is a player who can help you make up some of that ground in a hurry. He is that special of a prospect. Run, don't walk, to grab him in your league.

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