Despite his low-key demeanour and absence from almost any interview, Encarnacion stands out. The #Edwing, his laid-back stance and his massive (and timely) home runs have turned him into a fan favourite. However, whenever he leaves baseball, we'll always remember him sniffing bats.
He was the first baseball player we ever saw sniff a bat and, at first, we thought he would be the only one. He does it all the time. Every time he takes an Edwhiff of the bat, it's after he fouls a pitch off – usually straight back.
We wanted to know why and, after some digging, we found this old ESPN piece from Peter Gammons. He's telling a story of a time he was driving Ted Williams and Wade Boggs somewhere and Williams asked Boggs “Have you ever smelled the bat burning?”.
"What are you talking about?" Boggs replied.
Ted didn't reply.
At dinner, Ted repeated the question to Mattingly.
"People think I'm crazy, but yes," replied Mattingly. "It takes a perfect rising, four-seam fastball, a perfect swing, a foul straight back ... and you can smell the burn of the seams and the bat."
"Only the guys who whip that lumber have smelled it," said Ted.
Gammons noted that Williams asked the same question to Mark McGwire, who had smelled it as well. After one of McGwire's teammates is totally confused by the notion, Gammons goes on to call this “the language of the gods”. That's a little dramatic, but according to this piece, Encarnacion's bat sniffing has put him in good company.
In June, Edwin confirmed to the Toronto Star's Brendan Kennedy why he smells his bat: “I just like the smell. Like burning wood”.
We're not sure if he speaks the language of gods, but his bat burning swing has contributed to a career and persona that will no doubt be part of Blue Jays folklore for years to come.