Okay, I admit it, I got a little worked up yesterday trying to defend Edwin Encarnacion. (I know, I shouldn’t use “defend” and “Edwin Encarnacion” in the same sentence.)

I’m just continually amazed at how Reds fans want to toss this guy under the bus, even after the last three years, when Edwin has been an above average hitter (at ages 23, 24, and 25). What more do you want out of the guy? There aren’t many players who can claim to be above league-average as a hitter at those ages.

Some of you actually think there is a question as to who should start at 3B when Edwin gets back? Before you answer that, read this. The gist of that link is that Edwin’s production from last year is far superior to the production the Reds are getting from 3B this year. It’s not even close (and I see no reason not to think Edwin won’t be a better hitter than he was last year).

We all know what the deal is here. Edwin doesn’t smile and he doesn’t drink milk like Brandon Phillips, so no one’s first reaction is to like the guy. That’s the way players are judged in Cincinnati (see Rosales, Adam), for better or worse. It’s vital that you look like you are having fun and playing hard. Perception is much more important than reality in the Queen City.

Perhaps I feel a need to defend Encarnacion because I can see what’s going to happen here: Edwin is going to get the A*** D*** treatment, on a smaller scale. Everyone wants to focus on the things Edwin doesn’t do well (throwing the stupid baseball) instead of cheering the guy for being an above-average hitter who has a chance to be one of the best-hitting third basemen in the game — and for being one of the two hardest-working players on the team, by all reports. And he’s still very young!

At this point, Encarnacion is not the best 3B in the game, but he’s the best 3B that the Reds have. By far. Let’s give the guy a break. When we get Edwin back and healthy and productive, third base becomes one of the Reds strengths. If Walt Jocketty can focus on improving shortstop or left field, this team becomes even more interesting as we transition into summer.