Earlier this week, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden reported that there is a belief that the DH could be coming to the National League as early as the 2021 season.
The reaction to the news was mixed, but the DH coming to the NL in the next couple seasons could be a big advantage for the Rockies in particular. Why is that the case? Because the Rockies have Charlie Blackmon.
Blackmon will be a regular starter in the Rockies outfield for the seventh straight season in 2020. In that span, he has won a pair of Silver Sluggers and been named an All-Star four times. In each of the last four seasons, Blackmon has posted a wRC+ of 117 or better and hit at least 29 home runs.
After Blackmon finished fifth in NL MVP voting in 2017, the Rockies rewarded him with a six-year, $108 million contract extension, keeping him in purple pinstripes through the 2023 season.
Blackmon’s bat is clearly one the Rockies will want in their lineup going forward, but his defense over the past two seasons has left something to be desired. Per Statcast, Blackmon posted -8 outs above average in 2018 and, despite moving to right field, dropped to -9 OAA in 2019.
Similarly, according to Baseball-Reference, Blackmon earned 7.1 WAR with his bat in the past two seasons, but gave back 4.2 of that with his negative performance in the field.
Being able to make Blackmon a DH for the final three years of his deal could be a major boon, allowing them to put a better defensive player in the outfield and keeping Blackmon’s bat in the lineup.
Even an average defender in right field instead of Blackmon could boost the Rockies by a couple of wins a year. Also, eliminating Blackmon’s negative value in the field could make his contract an asset to the Rockies, rather than the liability it could become if he has to play the field into his mid-30s.
So despair not, Rockies fans, the DH coming to the NL could actually be a very good thing in Colorado, at least in the short-term.