One of the biggest surprises of the 2014 season thus far has been Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies. He leads the National League in hits and is among the league leaders in fWAR. He has played all three outfield positions and played them better than league average and is a better than league average base runner. His current wOBA is a fairly amazing .449.
- While Blackmon is in his first full season with the Rockies, he has played parts of three other seasons and he is not some young phenom. He is 27-years-old and probably at the peak of his physical playing abilities.
- Blackmon has a career batting average of .306 after a career minor league batting average of .309. So hitting above .300 is not a stretch for Charlie Blackmon. Hitting over .400 certainly is a stretch. His BABIP currently sits at .413, which is hardly sustainable. The odds of him batting over .300 are very good though.
- He scores equally proficient at all three outfield positions. Though he is primarily a center fielder and has been most of his career. CarGo likes to play there though, so expect Blackmon to continue moving around.
- Charlie Blackmon has not yet shown the kind of plate discipline he showed in the minors. While his 5.3% walk rate is double what it was in the Majors last season, it is half of what he did in the minors. He is currently swinging at 35% of pitches outside the strike zone. His walk rate should improve as he continues his MLB career. His MLB career on-base percentage is .337, which is not good enough to lead off. But it was over .370 in the minors.
- Blackmon makes a lot of contact and does not swing and miss very often. Currently, Blackmon has the fifth highest contact percentage in baseball. In other words, he puts the ball in play. His swing and miss rate is paltry at 4.5%.
- His batted ball rates are conducive to a high BABIP. He has good speed, so his 50% ground ball rate works for him. His ground ball rate is high for him currently and he should level out to about 45%. But his career line drive percentage is 22.8% and that works very well in his favor too.
- Blackmon’s arm is the weakest part of his defensive game. His arm scores a 48 and his arm accuracy is also a 48. So if you need a guy thrown out at the plate to win a game, Blackmon is not your guy.
- Charlie Blackmon is officially a product of Coors Field. Coors Field colors a lot of players because of how offensively well it plays. Thus is it hard for guys like Walker and Helton of the past to get much respect. Blackmon will be another one of those guys. Blackmon is batting .486 with a 1.284 OPS at home and .313 with a .746 OPS on the road. Six of his eight extra base hits have also occurred in Coors. For his career, those numbers are just as bent. He has a career batting average of .362 at home with an OPS of .905 and .254 on the road with an OPS of .655. That is a very dramatic swing. Batting left-handed, he does not have a big swing in his splits against left-handed pitching, however.
Conclusions: I don’t see it beyond the realm of imagination for Charlie Blackmon to hit .320 or higher for the season. Of course he won’t hit .400 like he is now. But his walk rate should get better as he gets more comfortable too. He should steal thirty bases or so at his current rate and play excellent defense wherever he is in the outfield. And it is good to keep in mind that he is not nearly the same player on the road as he is at home.