Center field, the captain of the outfield and an ever important position. The Rockies have not had a center fielder as complete as Charlie Blackmon for quite some time and with the Beard in center and leading off, the Rockies are a team that is much, much more dynamic. Last year Blackmon played his first full season as the primary center fielder and he embraced the role as well as anyone ever could have hoped. Charlie had a great 2014, but he was scattered around the lineup and throughout the outfield. In 2015 he built off of that success and became a player who can start the Rockies off and gives them someone they can run out in center field everyday. Charlie took on the role of leadoff hitter with the approach he needed to, while also embracing other aspects of his game not so typical of a leadoff hitter. Charlie has some pop and he displayed that for the second straight year. In 2014 Charlie had 19 home runs and a slugging of .440. In 2015 Charlie was the primary leadoff hitter and still finished with 17 home runs. More importantly however were the extra base hits that he threw out consistently. Blackmon hit 31 doubles and 9 triples which led to an increase in his slugging by 10 points. He also was more patient embracing that leadoff role. Charlie walked 46 times for the Rockies and got on base at a clip of .347. This is a very respectable number for someone like Charlie who has good pop. The most improved and impressive part of Charlie’s game last year was his ability to steal bases. Blackmon finished with a team leading and career high 43 stolen bases. This was good for third in the National league behind only Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton. The Rockies are not a team to have a guy to steal that many bases, so Charlie doing it is really impressive and a huge strength for the Rockies at the top of their lineup.
Charlie Blackmon: In 2016, expect Blackmon to produce much of the same as he did last year. An average right around .290 is where Charlie will be, but expect some growth in his OBP due to an increase in walks. Charlie was paying his first full year as a leadoff man, so this year he will have a better understanding of what is needed of him and will be more patient at the plate. Don’t expect this to affect his power numbers too greatly as he should still put up 15+ home runs from the leadoff spot. Another 40 stolen base season is also something completely possible for Charlie and with getting on base more, he will get more chances to steal a base. Having DJ LeMahieu batting behind him will also allow Walt to run the hit-and-run and get some first to third advances by Charlie. The only thing that I would like to see change in Blackmon’s game is his strikeout numbers. Last year he struck out 112 times which is too many times for a leadoff hitter. Charlie can and will reduce that number this year. Aside from that, Charlie is a guy who, barring an injury, will play solid baseball every single day. He is an effective defensive center fielder with plus range and speed in the outfield and an above average arm for a center fielder. The Rockies made the right move not trading him in the offseason, and although they would have likely gotten a good return for him, he is a great fit and personality in Colorado and his beard is a fan favorite.
Charlie will be eligible for arbitration at the end of the year and will earn his first big money contract. I’m hopeful the Rockies can keep him on the team as he is becoming a sort of cult hit in Colorado and is certainly well liked around the clubhouse. He is no longer a young guy, reaching his 30th birthday in July, but this means he can fully embrace a leadership role in the clubhouse and mentor some of the young guys coming up in the Rockies system once they reach the bigs.