You probably never heard of Charlie Blackmon until this baseball season. Actually you probably still haven’t heard of him until now.
Blackmon is the Colorado Rockies center fielder, whose girthy beard is wooly enough to look like it belongs to Paul Bunyon. But what’s more impressive than his beard is the numbers he put up from the leadoff spot in the Rockies batting order.
This season he led the National League in batting average (.331), hits (213), runs (137), plate appearances (725), triples (14), and total bases (387). He was tied for third in home runs (37) and eighth in RBIs (104).
This can be classified as a break-out season for Blackmon at age 30. We saw a glimpse of this potential last season when he batted .324 with 29 HR, 82 RBIs, 111 runs scored, and 319 total bases; Blackmon is one of those rare players who has that ‘break-out’ year during the middle of his career.
Guys like Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy come to mind when you think of guys who really started to figure things out, late on. Like Blackmon, Werth waited until his age 30 season to produce his first 30-home run, 100-RBI campaign while with the Phillies.
At age 30, Murph broke out in the 2015 World Series and was the only bright spot on the Mets roster that season. Both players are now top-of-the-order fixtures on a Washington Nationals roster looking to make a postseason run. It’s funny how similar their careers are, only to be coupled with the irony that they now play for the same team. Baseball is weird like that.
Blackmon has been on the Rockies roster since he was 24 in 2011 but never was that threat at the top of the lineup. From 2011-2015, Blackmon was a pretty average hitter. Good enough to stay at the big-league level but not great enough to be considered a consistent All-Star or get the nod for the MVP award.
— Around The Bases POD (@AroundBasesPOD) September 30, 2017
Now those numbers mentioned earlier definitely deserve attention from the baseball writers who will be voting on the NL MVP award this fall. Blackmon literally put up three and four-hole numbers at the leadoff spot in the batting order. He also set the record for RBIs as a leadoff batter, which was originally set by Darin Erstad of the Angels back in 2000.
Some may say that Blackmon benefitted from the hitter-friendly light air of Colorado. Which is a fair assessment. But look at Aaron Judge and his 52 home runs, a majority of those (33) were hit at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees home field in the Bronx is one of the smallest ballparks in the MLB but no one holds that against Judge. Therefore, let’s not penalise Blackmon for his home ballpark.
Honorable Mention: J.D. Martinez
JD Martinez hit a grand slam last night. It’s his 28th home run in 58 games with Arizona. pic.twitter.com/qXLFPNkq1Q
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 27, 2017
You can’t mention Blackmon as an unknown MVP candidate without mentioning the Diamondbacks J.D. Martinez.
Arizona acquired Martinez from Detriot halfway through the regular season. Between the two leagues, he has hit .303 with 45 HR, 104 RBIs, and 85 runs scored. Martinez has been vastly overshadowed by teammate, and fellow MVP candidate, Paul Goldschmidt.
Goldy and the Diamondbacks wouldn’t have found themselves in the postseason had it not been for the organization bringing in Martinez – who put up most of his stats will in a Diamondbacks uniform.
The MVP – contrary to our predictions last month – could come down to two unlikely 30-year-olds who suddenly figured things out.