Although some toe injuries hampered Charlie Blackmon's ability to run last season (only 28 stolen base attempts, as opposed to 56 in 2015), those issues did not hold him back at the plate. The 30-year-old hit 35 doubles and 29 homers which propelled him to a stellar .324/.381/.552 slash line. Blackmon managed to bring his strikeout rate down below 16 percent, and his road splits were perhaps the most encouraging numbers of all. While most Rockies hitters have gaudy numbers at home that drop off as soon as they're away from Coors Field, the outfielder's OPS on the road was a mere 13 points lower than his OPS at home. If he can bring the stolen bases back into his game while maintaining this solid approach away from Coors Field, Blackmon should carry his weight as an early pick.
Blackmon is 11-for-23 (.478) with three doubles, a home run and a stolen base in nine spring games. In a spring training dominated by the plethora of injuries striking Rockies camp, the 30-year-old is simply raking. It's foolish to look into spring numbers too much, but one can't help but be pleased by a player showing mid-season form this early on in the campaign. Blackmon will look to carry this torrid start into the regular season as the Rockies primary center fielder and leadoff hitter.
Blackmon will serve as the Rockies' leadoff hitter this season, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. New manager Bud Black will not shake things up at the top of the order in 2017 as Blackmon will set the table once again for Colorado. Out of the leadoff spot last season, Blackmon slashed .325/.380/.555 with 110 runs and 82 RBI.
Blackmon and the Rockies avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.3 million contract on Friday, Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball reports. Blackmon will receive more than double his salary from 2016 in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Blackmon's production in the stolen-base department took a hit last year, but he made up for that by posting career bests with 29 home runs, 82 RBI, 11 runs, and a .933 OPS while batting almost exclusively leadoff. He figures to occupy the same spot in the batting order again this year while serving as the Rockies' everyday center fielder.
Blackmon was part of an unsuccessful trade attempt when the Rockies tried to acquire right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Rumors of Blackmon being traded have been swirling, but the Rockies have struggled to find suitors for the outfielder. The Blue Jays weren't willing to part ways with their ace Stroman in a one-for-one deal. MLB Trade Rumors projects that Blackmon will earn $9 million in 2017 through arbitration. Clearing that potential salary could keep the Rockies in play for some of the bigger-ticket free agents. The 30-year-old is coming off a career-best season in which he set personal records in average, OBP, slugging percentage, home runs and RBI.
Blackmon homered and scored twice in a 1-for-3 game with a walk Tuesday against the Cardinals. Blackmon extended his hitting streak to nine games, now including four home runs to go with three doubles and two triples. He was already having a career year before this streak. Tuesday's performance pushed Blackmon's line up to .320/.380/.555 as he is establishing himself as a potential All-Star heading into 2017.