Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. 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.
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No. 5, Charlie Blackmon: 1.4 rWAR
At 37-years-old, Charles Cobb Blackmon has firmly cemented his legacy as one of the greatest Colorado Rockies players of all time. While likely not destined for Cooperstown, the bearded fan favorite known affectionately as “Chuck Nazty” likely has a number retirement in his future at 20th and Blake.
Were he to have retired at the end of the season, Charlie Blackmon would end his career in the top ten for almost every offensive category in Rockies history. In many categories he is ranked second all-time behind soon-to-be Hall of Famer Todd Helton.
Charlie Blackmon Career Leaderboard
|Runs Batted In
|Hit By Pitch
Despite his prime being well in the rearview mirror, Charlie Blackmon has continued to be a vital member of the Rockies lineup in 2023. Through his age 36/37 season, Blackmon showed he hasn’t lost much of a step.
Blackmon regained his role as the Rockies’ trusted leadoff hitter, batting at the top of the order in 72 games this season as he supplanted Jurickson Profar for the spot. His impeccable plate discipline makes him ideal for the role. In 2023 Blackmon posted the second-lowest strikeout percentage of his 13-year career at 13.3% and the highest walk rate of his career at 9.4%. His 39 total walks were the fourth-most of any regular Rockies starter this season while his 55 total strikeouts were the fewest.
Much of Blackmon’s power has left his bat as he’s gotten older. Gone are the days of 20 or more home runs in a season. However, he still tied for seventh on the team with eight home runs—and that says a lot more about the 2023 Rockies than it does about Blackmon. However, even with less power, Blackmon still found ways to contribute at the plate. His .279 batting average, .363 on-base percentage, and 107 OPS+ are all second place marks on the team behind Nolan Jones. He also hit 24 doubles and drove in 40 runs.
Blackmon also proved that he’s still got the wheels on him despite being one of the older players in the league. He tied the team lead in triples with rookie speedster Brenton Doyle at five as he padded his comfortable lead for career triples as a Rockies batter. He also stole four bases while cementing his 11th consecutive season with multiple steals.
Blackmon accomplished all of this despite missing a large part of the season. Blackmon only played 96 games—his fewest since 2013—due to injury. During a June road series against the Kansas City Royals, he was hit by a pitch (one of the many categories he leads the Rockies in) and fractured his right hand. The injury sidelined him until mid-August, but he didn’t miss a beat when he returned to the lineup.
From August 14th to October 1st, Blackmon was one of the Rockies’ best hitters. He slashed .297/.386/.466 in those 40 games with 10 doubles, three triples, and three home runs. He drew 18 walks to just 22 strikeouts, stole four bases, and was even hit by a pitch another four times. In what could have been the final days of his final season, Blackmon looked as good as he ever had over his lengthy career.
It would have been an incredible shame for Charlie Blackmon’s storied Rockies career to end with the 2023 season. The combination of him missing significant time due to his fractured hand and the Rockies suffering through their worst season in franchise history would have simply been too tragic: a quiet and underrated final chapter during an ignominious year.
Thankfully, 2023 was not Blackmon’s curtain call. On September 29th in the middle of the first inning the Rockies announced that they had signed Charlie Blackmon to a one-year extension. Likely the final contract of his career, Blackmon will make $13 million in 2024 with up to $2 million in performance bonuses.
“It would just be hard to picture somewhere else,” Blackmon told the Denver Post. “That was something I had to consider … So while I did consider it, I didn’t give it too much thought.”
One of the longest-serving Rockies will remain with the team that drafted him for one last ride without ever hitting the open market of free agency. Hopefully his final year will shine much brighter than 2023.