Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon faces an interesting situation this year in Spring Training. He is one among three outfielders competing for time in the spot last occupied by Dexter Fowler (though it has moved from center to left field).
Corey Dickerson and the recently-acquired Drew Stubbs are the other two options. Both seem to bring more upside than Blackmon, especially in terms of pop at the plate. Yet you could reasonably argue that Blackmon is the most sound player of the group; combined with his versatility, he might be the one who is best suited to be an everyday player (despite Troy Tulowitzki’s assessment of Stubbs earlier this off-season).
Will the Rockies opt for a higher-ceiling platoon? Or can Blackmon prove his value as a productive player who plays solid defense, gets on base consistently, and is less likely to crater for stretches of the season?
“I would think that this year would be the best opportunity that I’ve had so far…Maybe it’s because of who we got on the team. Maybe it’s because of the fact I’ve played a little bit more at the big league level, and people know what I can do.
“When I do adjust to the competition, I’ve shown that I can be very successful…There was a point last year where I went from being a player who wasn’t as comfortable as he could’ve been to a player who was comfortable, confident and playing very well.”
Here’s the potential problem for Blackmon: if the Rockies want to surprise people in what promises to be a stacked NL West, they probably need to be bold and give guys with higher ceilings more playing time. Put in the right situation (a platoon), Dickerson and Stubbs are both capable of having a greater impact than Blackmon, even if he is more consistent or predictable than either of them day-to-day.
What likely happens here is that the “3rd” outfielder, the left fielder, is Corew Stubberson (or Drorey Dickubbs, if you prefer some alliteration), with Blackmon getting his share of the action as the “4th” outfielder. That could work well for the Rockies, and that arrangement might also set them up to absorb the blow if Carlos Gonzalez misses time with an injury.
There will be a place for Blackmon, one of my personal favorite Rockies, on the 2014 roster. But pending an overwhelming performance by him in Spring Training, it will likely be in a 4th outfielder role.