Rockies CF continues blistering streak with 21st HR
By Daniel Kramer
DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon has been named the National League Player of the Week for the second time this season and fourth of his career.
Blackmon belted five homers over the weekend in Philadelphia, setting the Rockies' record for most deep flies in a three-game series. For the week, he went 18-for-32 (.563) with a 1.913 OPS, thanks in large part to his seven homers and three doubles, plus nine RBIs. He struck out just four times in that stretch.
On the season, Blackmon has already set a career high with 21 homers -- including a solo shot in Monday's 5-4 loss to the Nationals -- and he's just 12 RBIs shy of his personal benchmark of 72.
"He's just in the zone," manager Walt Weiss said after Monday's game. "He's not missing pitches he gets to hit. He's barreling them up and he's barreling them up hard. And they're carrying over the fence."
Blackmon's homer on Monday, coming on a 1-2 changeup from Max Scherzer, was launched a Statcast-projected 387 feet away at an exit velocity of 100 mph with a 33-degree launch angle. Statistically, it wasn't a marvel, but the reaction of the 27,818 fans at Coors Field proved it was a no-doubter.
"He's got power -- surprising power," Weiss said. "I think he's adding on there. He can hit the long ball a lot more than he did a few years ago. His power has improved."
In light of his recent power barrage, right fielder Carlos Gonzalez said Blackmon could eventually develop into a middle-of-the-order bat.
"Having a guy like [Blackmon] leading off, I did it early in my career and then I found my way to the middle of the lineup. I think that could be his case, too," Gonzalez said. "He's a great hitter and he's got enough power to drive runs in."
Among everyday Rockies starters, Blackmon ranks second with a .382 on-base percentage, behind DJ LeMahieu (.410) and tied with David Dahl, who was called up on July 25 and tied an MLB record with a 17-game hit streak to start his career.
Blackmon has been the team's leadoff batter in 405 of his 486 starts.
Weiss didn't rule out Blackmon moving down in the order some day, but not in the near future -- particularly with sluggers Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado fluctuating between third and cleanup. Those two rank second and first, respectively, among NL hitters in home runs since the start of 2015, with a combined 135 in that stretch.
"I like that power, speed threat at the top of the lineup," Weiss said. "When the lineup turns over, it's dangerous right away. For those reasons, I like Charlie at the top."
From July 5-22, Blackmon went on a career-best 14-game hit streak, but said midway through that he felt off. He said he recently felt he broke through a wall physically.
"I feel better right now and this past past week than I did during that hitting streak," Blackmon said. "I felt like I was competing really well a couple weeks ago, and now I feel like I'm a lot more confident; like I'm going to hit balls hard consistently and be able to control the strike zone better. I feel stronger."
The Rockies have also now claimed an NL-high five Player of the Week honors this year. Blackmon won it for the week of June 26, and Trevor Story (April 10 and July 18) and Arenado (April 17) have also received the distinction.
"It just shows how much we compete on the offensive side," Arenado said. "We're a good offensive team … I think from top-to-bottom, our offense is one of the best in the game."
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.