The Chicago White Sox are certainly unhappy with the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season, but one player could suffer the most from a historical perspective.
From a historical perspective, though, there is no player on the Chicago White Sox hurt more than Edwin Encarnacion, whose bid for 500 career homers might fall short because of this season, if it ever gets started up.
As detailed by Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs, Encarnacion’s odds of hitting 500 home runs were already in question, with his odds at 47%.
However, if the 37-year-old doesn’t see the field this season, his odds will fall to 26%, according to the article.
Encarnacion currently only has 414 home runs, but given the fact he’s hit more than 30 home runs in each of the past eight seasons, including more than 35 in five of them, he has a reasonable chance if he can continue to perform at that rate.
A lost season at this stage, though, could completely evaporate those hopes, though, as not only is that a season of opportunity wiped away from him, but it also would make it difficult for his future seasons.
Hitters struggle to get back into a groove of facing live pitching just in general if they take time off.
For someone at Encarnacion’s age, it could be even more difficult to adjust back to the game after an extended time off from it.
In fact, a lost baseball season might even make the South Side’s DH consider retirement before the start of the 2021 season.
Obviously, a lost season isn’t necessarily seen as the likely solution right now, given that the league has still been discussing a plan in which baseball could return by May, as reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN.
However, any loss of games that Encarnacion might experience would hurt his chances. Every extra attempt he could get at hitting home runs matters.
For example, even if the league does go forward with that plan, the league would be implementing doubleheaders.
That would likely mean Encarnacion won’t play both ends those every time, given the Chicago White Sox have Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu also fighting for playing time at first base and DH those days.
So even a return to baseball this season that gives Encarnacion less than 162 games to work with would hurt his chances of getting his 500th homer.
Encarnacion signed a one-year, $12 million contract that includes a club option with the Chicago White Sox during the offseason.
His one season with the organization very well could never happen if the team were to decline his club option this offseason after not having any games this season.
That being said, the hope will be that the Chicago White Sox take the field this season with Encarnacion, which will give him a legitimate chance to get the elusive 500th homer at some point before he retires.