Blackmon hits the books to adjust to pitchers

Rockies center fielder's stellar season requires more study time

Blackmon hits the books to adjust to pitchers

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon has always embraced study. One doesn't graduate with the highest honors from Georgia Tech, in finance, without it. But truth be told, he believes the increased homework that pitchers are forcing him to do is for the birds.

Blackmon's performance, which is worthy of National League Most Valuable Player consideration, means pitchers are throwing the strategy book at him. It means more pregame video work and reading.

"They're trying to make me make adjustments," Blackmon said. "I think I can make those adjustments. But sometimes it makes baseball less fun.

"You have to go up there and, instead of being aggressive and playing the game, you have to go up there, and your main priority is not to swing at a ball because they're trying to not throw you a strike. That makes baseball boring to me. But if they want to play boring baseball, I'll give it my best shot.

"I don't know that I enjoy the study. I enjoy being prepared when the game starts."

There's nothing dull about his performance.

After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Padres, Blackmon's NL-leading batting average is .329. His 94 RBIs from the leadoff spot are an NL record (he has driven in one other run).

Blackmon ranks fifth in the NL in OPS at .998. But since the All-Star break, Blackmon's 1.067 OPS is second only to Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton's 1.122 among hitters with more than 200 at-bats. His performance has given the Rockies two MVP candidates, with third baseman Nolan Arenado expected to receive consideration.

But the challenge from pitchers means Blackmon can't take anything for granted. How can he think about the MVP race when he's simply trying to stay ahead in the batter's box?

"I go out there and get beat every night," Blackmon said. "There's lots of room for improvement. There are lots of things I can do better. That helps me keep pushing to adjust and keep pushing to enjoy that competition."

Blackmon also insists the playoff race has not been a distraction. The Rockies entered the San Diego series having lost three straight and their margin for the second NL Wild Card spot has dwindled to one game over the Brewers. The offensive outage has been team-wide. Blackmon had a hit in each of those losses (3-for-11 with two walks, two RBIs and no runs scored), however, the team was 4-for-22 with runners in scoring position.

"To me, it feels the same," Blackmon said. "I'm trying hard every time I go out there. That's the best place for a player to be, mentally. That way they're not giving away at-bats. If I were to play every day, then all of a sudden because I have to do something different, then I'm doing something wrong."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.