Encarnacion reaches 30 HRs for 5th straight year

In final season of contract, slugger now 2 homers from 300

Encarnacion reaches 30 HRs for 5th straight year

HOUSTON -- Edwin Encarnacion has become the model of consistency in a Blue Jays uniform, so it should come as no surprise that he surpassed the 30-homer plateau for the fifth consecutive year on Thursday night.

Encarnacion hit a solo homer in Toronto's 4-1 victory over the Astros, and he's now two shy of No. 300 for his career. The only person with a longer stretch of 30-plus-homer seasons for the Blue Jays was Carlos Delgado from 1997-2004.

All of this from a guy who was once designated for assignment by the club and maligned for his defense at third base. Those days are long gone and have since been replaced with nothing but respect for a player who has clearly established himself as one of the elite sluggers in the game.

"I feel really happy that I've got five seasons in a row hitting 30 home runs," Encarnacion said through an interpreter after the game. "It's a nice thing to do ... I never expected it to happen and I feel really proud that it happened to me. I thank God things are going well for me."

Encarnacion's 30 home runs rank second in the American League behind Baltimore's Mark Trumbo (31). He's the MLB leader in RBIs with 91, and he also leads the AL with 213 RBIs dating back to the start of the 2015 season.

It's almost easy to take Encarnacion's continued production for granted. In addition to the home runs, he has at least 91 RBIs the past five years. He's almost guaranteed of reaching the 100-RBI plateau again this season, which would leave 2014 as the only year during that stretch he didn't reach that mark (he fell two short).

The future remains uncertain for the 33-year-old Encarnacion, who is a free agent at the end of the season. He'll be one of the most coveted hitters on the market and is surely in line for a big payday. He knows it, his teammates know it and manager John Gibbons certainly knows it.

"Eddie's one of the top sluggers in the game. ... He's a free agent, I know that," Gibbons said. "I can't say it's an opportune time because he always does it, but Eddie's put himself among the elite hitters in the game. He's a threat any time he's swinging the bat. We've got a couple guys who can do that."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.