Fantasy baseball stats are not park adjusted, a fact that has lead many a casual baseball fan to learn the names of otherwise marginal baseball players like Jeff Cirillo or Jeffrey Hammonds in the past. Especially in pre-humidor Coors, nearly Rockies position player was worthy of being drafted because the friendly offensive environment boosted the production of standard fantasy categories like runs, RBI, HRs, batting average, and even steals. This year, the Rockies are partying like it's 1996, as nearly everyone in the starting lineup (not you, DJ LeMahieu) possesses gaudy stats.
To wit, the Rockies have five of the top 29 producing players in Yahoo! fantasy baseball (hitter or pitcher) in their starting lineup day in and day out, including the top two overall in Troy Tulowitzki and Charlie Blackmon. I wrote about how crazy Tulo's April was last week and he responded by having an even better start to May (.684/.739/1.105, 393 wRC+ so far). Let's hope that Blackmon will respond to a similar manner this week after I turn the spotlight on him. But first, let's mention how unconscious this whole team has been this season.
With their dominant 12-1 win last night over the Rangers, the Rockies have clawed back to within one game of the division lead at 21-14. To date, Colorado is hitting .307/.356/.504 as a team this year - all of which lead MLB by a healthy margin. These video game numbers aren't just a product of Coors Field's offensive environment either - the team's (park-adjusted) 122 wRC+ metric leads MLB by a wide margin as well.
The Rockies have scored 206 runs this year (giving them a NL-leading +48 run differential), a number that leads MLB by 25. At home, the Rockies are even more ridiculous, scoring 7.7 runs per game and hitting at a .355/.400/.600, 146 wRC+ clip.
Basically, as a team the Rockies at Coors Field are putting up a triple slash line at home that Blackmon's has put up in his star turn this year (.358/.396/.610, 163 wRC+ in 136 plate appearances). Which is insane, because Blackmon has played out of his gourd to start 2014.
As Tony Blengino of FanGraphs wrote yesterday, Blackmon really did come out of nowhere this year. Here's a couple of reasons why Blackmon has been so effective this year:
1) Blackmon's offensive profile is perfect for Coors
Namely, Charlie Blackmon is a contact-heavy line drive hitter who hits a lot of his line drives and fly balls into right-center field. As Blengino notes above, right-center field is the best possible place for a hitter to hit a ball in Coors Field, and it's where it has the best chance of leaving the yard.
It's no wonder then that 12 of Blackmon's 16 extra base hits, including all of his home runs, have come at Coors Field. In all, he's got a .414/.440/.800 line (214 wRC+) in 75 plate appearances at home. One of the main reasons that Blackmon has been able to take such full advantage of Coors this season is that...
2) Blackmon is swinging and missing much less often
Blengino notes that Blackmon swung and missed at 8.7% of pitches last year - and that he's cut that nearly in half this year, down to 4.4%. Blengino compares this to Garrett Atkins's success with swing and miss in 2005 and 2006, which drove him to become one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball (until he became Fatkins).
In an environment as friendly to BABIP as Coors is, it's often an excellent strategy to make contact and hope for the best. Believe it or not though, Charlie hasn't actually gotten too lucky with BABIP this year - his .343 BABIP (.367 at home) trails his batting average overall by a significant margin.
3) As a result of making contact more often, Blackmon striking out much less
Blackmon's K% last year was 19.0, which ranked him in the 68th percentile in that metric per Blengino. This year's 7.7 K% ranks him in the 3rd percentile in that metric. Also...
4) Blackmon has been great against left-handed pitching this season
While Blackmon has been held out of the lineup against a few tough lefty starters, his numbers against lefties this season have been great in 34 plate appearances (.387/.394/.742, 195 wRC+).
5) The Beard
Just saying. Also, excellent taste in walk-up music.
The factors outlined above make Blackmon a particularly dangerous offensive weapon - one of many the Rockies have displayed so far this season.
Let the video game offense continue!