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Charlie Blackmon is still providing much-needed offense

Blackmon is still showing he is valuable with his offensive abilities

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2020. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

★ ★ ★

No. 10, Charlie Blackmon: 0.5 rWAR

Charlie Blackmon started Summer Camp two weeks later than the rest of the team. After showing mild flu-like symptoms, Blackmon tested positive for COVID-19 in June after participating in pre-camp workouts at Coors Field. He had to fully recover before joining the rest of the Rockies for Summer Camp to prepare for a weird, shortened 2020 season.

Offensively, Charlie was a force to be reckoned with during the first half of the season. Did he go 1-for-11 in his first three games? Sure. Right out of the gate, it seemed like Blackmon was struggling, but with his shortened amount of time to get ready for the season, it wasn’t a major surprise.

Luckily, all of that changed quickly and he found his groove. At the close of a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 11th, Blackmon’s average sat at a whopping .500 through the first week of the season. His 14-game hitting streak ended the next night, after going 0-for-4 in a loss to the same Diamondbacks.

But the story (no, not Trevor) doesn’t end there.

In addition to having a really fantastic statistical first half of the season, Blackmon also made Rockies history by becoming only the second player in franchise history to hit a walk-off grand slam. The big knock came on September 11 against the Los Angeles Angels and put him in elite company with Rockies broadcaster Ryan Spilborghs.

Unfortunately, Blackmon’s second half was not nearly as impressive as his start. He ended the season slashing just .303/.356/.448, which is still above average and an overall good finish to the shortened season.

Defensively, an elite or award-winning level performance was not expected. Blackmon’s defensive abilities have been gradually declining over the past few seasons, but Charlie still showed his value to the team. He had 101 putouts and a 1.000 fielding percentage. Over the past few seasons, he has been below average on defensive runs saved (DRS), according to Fangraphs, and the case remained the same this season. In 2019 he had -9 DRS, but in 2020 that number was improved to -1. Even with less than extraordinary numbers, his defensive performance still landed him as a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award for right field. He is going up against Mookie Betts (Dodgers) and Jason Heyward (Cubs). The winner of the award will be named on November 3.

Blackmon’s offensive abilities make him a valuable asset to the Rockies, despite his average, or below average defense. Even as he continues to age, we will likely continue to see him in the lineup in right field if he is still providing much-needed offense and big hits. However, if his defense declines further, we might see Charlie Blackmon finding himself in the role of designated hitter versus the everyday outfielder role we’re used to seeing. This season, the DH came to National League for the first time, and it’s expected to stay with only one season remaining before the current collective bargaining agreement between the MLB Players Association and MLB expires. If that is the case, we’ll likely see Charlie Blackmon in the DH spot on the lineup card, as long as he can continue to provide exceptional offense.