Top 10 Reasons I Love Charlie Blackmon
After a truly dismal month of May, the Rockies really needed a jumpstart. That seems to have come in the form of rookie Charlie Blackmon, called up from Colorado Springs on June 7th. It might be a little early to sing his praises, as he’s only appeared in 14 games, but despite the small sample size, I think it’s safe to say his presence has been essential to the team’s recent success. Some reasons why.
10. Aggression In the Field
Blackmon doesn’t catch every ball that comes his way, but he catches enough of them. He’s perfectly competent in left field, and has made some pretty terrific running catches. I don’t know that we’ll ever see him climb the wall and rob somebody of a home run, but who knows? Maybe we will.
9. He Understands the Outfield Hierarchy
When Cargo is calling everybody else off, Blackmon stays well away. Maybe we’ll see him collide with another fielder at some point, but so far he’s shown that he doesn’t need to be the hero. As long as someone catches the ball, Blackmon is indifferent about whether it’s him. He also hasn’t made any foolish sliding catches yet. Certainly, sometimes a sliding catch is called for, but it requires that the fielder is sure he can get to the ball and won’t waste valuable time scrambling to his feet. So far, so good on that front.
8. Wasn’t He Supposed to Be a Power Hitter … ?
One of the reasons I was excited about Blackmon’s call-up was his potential to hit for power. That was the buzzword associated with his name in the scouting reports, and he hit 10 home runs in 58 games with the Sky Sox this season. His slugging percentage was .572. And yet, he hasn’t even hit any long fly balls with the Rockies. He mostly hits ground balls that find holes in the infield. Of his 17 hits so far, 16 were singles. I’m not upset about this at all, though. The Rockies have plenty of power as a team, and Blackmon has been doing exactly what we need him to do. His hits drive in runs and keep innings alive.
7. He Puts Wood on the Ball
In 52 at-bats, Blackmon has just 3 strikeouts and 2 walks. That means he has made contact in 90% of his at-bats. By comparison, Carlos Gonzalez makes contact in 69% of his, and Troy Tulowitzki in 81% of his. Dexter Fowler? 54%. Again, I’m aware of the small sample size, but I’m also mightily impressed by Blackmon’s ability to hit the ball. He always swings at pitches around the strike zone, even when they are balls; he knows he won’t miss them completely. He fouls pitches off until he gets one he can hit. Often he scoops hits on pitches that are well outside the zone. The confidence and skill this reflects are remarkable.
6. Really Fast Running
This kid has terrific speed on the basepaths. Given the opportunity, I’m sure we’ll see him score from 1st on somebody’s long single very soon. Opposing teams work hard to hold him on 1st when he’s there, and yet he always gets the steal when he’s going for it. They can’t stop him. They shouldn’t try.
5. Running That Is Not Stupid
Even better than the speed is the fact that Blackmon seems to have his wits about him every time he starts running (well, almost every time). It’s been a few games since he’s stolen a base, but he stole one in 5 straight games last week, and has yet to be caught. Compare this to Dexter Fowler, who attempted 8 stolen bases in his 57 games this season and was caught 6 times. Fowler has speed, but seems in dire need of a baserunning clinic. Blackmon could hold that clinic; he knows when to run and whom to run on, and he gets his base.
4. Bunting. Like, He Knows How
I hate to keep comparing Blackmon to Fowler, because it’s not that I don’t like Dex. I do. I want him to get good again and come back to the big club. But you can’t argue with the performance of each this season. Blackmon can bunt for a base hit, and Fowler cannot. Maybe he will be able to one day, but for now, Blackmon is the guy I want at the plate when the offense isn’t clicking and we’re desperate to get somebody on base.
3. Youthful Vigor
This isn’t something you can quantify, but who’s going to argue that Blackmon’s presence on the team has lit some kind of spark. He’s sure of himself and it looks as though the other guys are suddenly more sure of themselves. The effect reminds me of what Tulo brought to the team in 2007 (he was called up in 2006, but only played in 25 games). Tulo has established himself as a clear leader in the clubhouse, both in attitude and ability, and Blackmon shows signs of being something similar. His learning curve has been much shorter than that of most rookies. He has stepped into his role with confidence and swagger, and the Rockies needed that.
2. He Comes Nickname Ready
The Rockies Nation has yet to agree on what term of endearment Blackmon should be known by, but there are so many choices! Blackie. Two-Buck Chuck. Black Horse of the Apocalypse. Charlie is the New Black, Mon. Surely there are others. His name is much easier to manipulate than, say, Matt Lindstrom’s. I still don’t have anything good for him.
1. Those Eyes. That Hair. Am I Right, Ladies?