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5 reasons Encarnacion leads free agent sluggers

MLB.com

Edwin Encarnacion is the most powerful bat on the free agent market this winter, and his consistent slugging since he came to Toronto is sure to bring multiple teams calling.

One of the the Blue Jays' two big boppers available this Hot Stove season, along with Jose Bautista, Encarnacion is being featured here as part of an MLB.com series looking at five key stats about some of this year's key free agents.

Edwin Encarnacion is the most powerful bat on the free agent market this winter, and his consistent slugging since he came to Toronto is sure to bring multiple teams calling.

One of the the Blue Jays' two big boppers available this Hot Stove season, along with Jose Bautista, Encarnacion is being featured here as part of an MLB.com series looking at five key stats about some of this year's key free agents.

Though the number 42 might be all some teams need to see (that's how many home runs Encarnacion mashed in 2016), here's a look at noteworthy stats that might show what Encarnacion's 2017 team can expect from him after he helped lead Toronto to its second consecutive American League Championship Series appearance.

A powerful track record
Encarnacion has been one of the most productive offensive players in baseball over the last five years. Overall, his 146 wRC+ since 2012 is the seventh-best mark in the Majors. Encarnacion is the only player in Major League Baseball to hit 30-plus home runs in each of the last five seasons, and that includes two 40-home-run campaigns. His 193 total homers in that span rank second in the Majors, behind only Chris Davis' 197 -- and Encarnacion has hit more than 20 points better than Davis, while striking out half as often. In the past five seasons, Encarnacion has 18 multi-homer games, second-most in the Majors, one behind Miguel Cabrera.

Video: The guys on MLB Now discuss Encarnacion's next deal

Big bat, big flies
Not many Major Leaguers can get ahold of a baseball like Encarnacion. Since Statcast™ started tracking batted-ball data in 2015, he's hit 52 home runs of at least 400 feet, third-most in the Majors behind Nelson Cruz (60) and Nolan Arenado (56). His farthest? A 471-foot shot this July that was the ninth-longest home run hit in 2016. Encarnacion's walk-off home run in this year's AL Wild Card Game traveled a projected 440 feet, the second-longest of the postseason.

RBI machine
Encarnacion has driven in 550 runs over the last five years (including his AL-leading 127 this season), second-most in baseball behind Cabrera's 569. He's one of three players with four 100-RBI seasons in the last five years, along with Cabrera and David Ortiz. The 2016 season was Encarnacion's fourth with 35-plus home runs and 100-plus RBIs, tied for second-most among active players (now that David Ortiz is officially retired, only Albert Pujols has more). All four of those have come in the last five years, most of any player in that time.

Taking what's given
For a power hitter, Encarnacion stays disciplined at the plate. Of 48 hitters with at least 100 homers since 2012, Encarnacion's 12.5 percent walk rate is ninth-highest, according to FanGraphs, while his 15.1 percent strikeout rate is sixth-lowest. Only nine players have drawn at least 60 walks in the last five seasons, and Encarnacion is one; his 392 walks since 2012 are eighth-most in the Majors. Although his strikeouts did increase to 138 this season, it was still the first time he'd struck out 100 times since joining the Blue Jays in 2009.

Video: Encarnacion rejects qualifying offer from Blue Jays

The other side of the ball
Encarnacion has spent more time at designated hitter than first base over the past two seasons, but he isn't all-hitting/no-defense like some other first basemen are. Of 50 first basemen to log at least 1,000 innings at the position since 2015, his Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games ranks eighth -- 4.1 runs above average, per FanGraphs, including above-average marks in both range (2.0) and errors (1.5).

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Edwin Encarnacion