It’s unquestionably been a down year for one of the faces of the Rockies franchise. Charlie Blackmon has seen nearly all his numbers drop to career lows in a full season.
What’s been most notable, and pointed out by Mario DeGenz about a month ago, was his drop in power. The 35-year-old is slugging a career low .411 with just 13 home runs on the year (six of them coming in the last 30 days) with less than three weeks remaining.
More specifically however, it’s been Charlie’s inability to hit fastballs from right-handed pitchers that has hurt his game. For his entire career, Charlie has been a plus-.300 hitter on any fastball from either right-handed or left-handed pitchers. Against righties, it’s a pitch that he has typically hit most of his home runs. Take a look at how he’s fared against them this season compared to years past:
Charlie Blackmon vs Fastballs from RHP
A historically good fastball hitter for 10 years suddenly not hitting fastballs in year 11 isn’t a great sign. If you’re wondering, he’s still hitting above .300 against left-handed fastballs, so would this mean that as he ages, his career reverse splits will widen? It will be interesting to see what his numbers against righties will look like next year because he’s been inconsistent against them month-to-month this season. He started off the year batting .185 against them in April, then returning to his norm of around .300 from May through July but getting back down near .160 in August and continuing into September.
At 35 years old, this could be the beginning of the final phase of Blackmon’s career. He remains a valuable hitter in any lineup especially for Colorado but it now may be unrealistic to expect Blackmon to be a focal point of an offense like he once was. His role going forward could be as a complimentary role player and mentor to the younger players. It’s nothing he hasn’t already been doing this year, but it’s just a matter of tempering expectations with the four time All-Star.
He’s already a step ahead, adjusting his approach and trying to make up for the loss of slugging with career bests in strikeout (13.9%) and walk (9.1%) percentages.
With parts of 11 seasons in Colorado, he is now the second-longest tenured Rockies player of all time and one of a handful of active players over 34 with a career batting average above .300. Those years of experience have helped Blackmon become one of the team’s most consistent hitters at home and on the road, something the rest of the team is still learning. Having that knowledge in the clubhouse and in an active uniform is one of the most valuable things the Rockies have.
Defensively, we’ve known for a few years now that Blackmon was not going to age gracefully in right field. Since 2016, he’s been worth a combined -28 OAA and -46 DRS, the second lowest of any outfielder in that span. The optimal future for the Rockies and Blackmon is for him to split time at right field and the DH, once it becomes universal across both leagues like many expect.
The reason we’re talking about the future fit of a 35-year-old outfielder is because he has a strong shot at finishing his career in Colorado, barring a trade. According to Spotrac, Blackmon holds a $21.3 million dollar player option for next season and then another player option for $13.3 million for the 2023 season. That’s a lot of cheddar to walk away from.
We’re still a ways away but if that would be the case, it’d be a satisfying ending for such a fan favorite to remain in Colorado from career start to finish. Given what has happened with Nolan Arenado and now possibly Trevor Story, it’s not just satisfying but much needed to demonstrate to the rest of the league that there’s some resemblance of stability in Denver and it’s name is Charles Cobb Blackmon.
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Julian Fernandez has made his blazing stuff known but the 25-year-old rookie understands that there is more to pitching than pure heat. His next challenge is to hone in on his command and utilize his secondary pitches effectively. Patrick Saunders chronicles how the once 9-year-old bat boy for the Rockies’ Dominican Summer League team worked his way to be a promising young major league pitcher.
Sam Hilliard has had a season full of highs and lows across both Triple-A and the majors but the young outfielder seems to be just as determined as ever. He’s continued to make adjustments after adjustments and now plans on continuing to hone his craft through the winter in Mexico.
On the farm
The Isotopes had no issue getting runners on yesterday but they just couldn’t find ways to get them across finishing just 1-for-10 with RISP. Both outfielders Wynton Bernard and Nick Longhi each finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk. Bernard recorded the lone RBI with a runner on second base. Catcher Brian Serven launched his 14th home run in the seventh and stole his first base of the year as part of his 1-for-3 day that also included a walk.
While the Rockies were beating the Phillies in Philadelphia, their Double-A affiliate was also in the midst of beating the Phils. Peter Lambert made another rehab start with the Yard Goats. He went 2 2⁄3 innings and allowed just one hit and one run while striking out five batters. All five of the Yard Goats’ runs came in the first inning. Outfielder Manuel Melendez led the offense with a 2-for-4 day with a double and an RBI.
Out west, a big seven-run fifth inning lifted the Canadians past Spokane. Starter Trent Fennell held the Canadians to just one run in his first four innings of work but it when he went back out in the fifth inning things got out of hand. He’d be responsible two of the seven runs scored but the rest were given to reliever Will Tribucher who could not make it out of the inning. First baseman Kyle Datres had a 2-for-4 game with two RBIs and a double. Second baseman Jack Blomgren went 2-for-3 and had the team’s only walk.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies @ Modesto Nuts (Cancelled: COVID-19)
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