While there has been some noticeable slippage in veteran slugging first baseman Edwin Encarnacion’s batting average the last few seasons as a concession to age, his power game remains as massive as ever as he comes off a terrific 2016 where he clubbed 42 home runs and registered a career-best 127 RBI. While in the past Encarnacion was prone to getting nicked up at times, he has been a major source of durability the last two years in posting 624 and 702 at-bats which have no doubt helped boost the counting numbers. In fact Encarnacion has become a beacon of stability as he has reached at least 34 home runs in five straight seasons and he also has made it to the 100-RBI mark in four years during that same span. Encarnacion has in fact changed as a fantasy baseball stock the last few years, seemingly losing for good the 8-10 steals he once provided and also seeing his K/9 rate inch up as well (his 19.7 mark in 2016 was Encarnacion’s highest since first breaking in with the Cincinnati Reds). Be that as it may, Encarnacion takes plenty of walks (12.4 %) which helps him be an asset in runs (90-plus in four of the last five seasons) to go with the power. While Encarnacion will never win a batting title since he has settled firmly in the .265-average range, his status as a clear top five fantasy baseball first baseman remains intact. Just keep in mind though that Encarnacion’s signing with the Cleveland Indians during the winter moves him from arguably the best power park in the game in Toronto to a neutral one in Cleveland. This means Encarnacion will likely lose a few home runs and RBI from his 2016 ledger but not enough to sway his overall standing in the draft this season.
2017 PROJECTION: .266 37 HR 116 RBI 97 R 4 SB