This past offseason was an exciting time for both the members of the Colorado Rockies and their fans. The team inked Ian Desmond who can play multiple positions and as it turned out, has needed to. Of course, they addressed their biggest need regarding the back end of their bullpen, signing Mike Dunn and Greg Holland.
It’s translating to the field. Colorado sits at 25-15 and first place in the National League West.
Let’s all not forget, however, that the Rockies also dabbled with the idea of trading fan favorite Charlie Blackmon.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2016
In Toronto’s case, it’s very obvious why they didn’t want to give up Stroman for Blackmon straight-up. Toronto’s right-hander was 25-years-old at the time, now 26, opposed to Blackmon who is currently 30. Not to mention, Stroman is under team control for more years. Colorado would have had to toss in a prospect or two to make the deal happen.
Stroman is off to a strong start in his 2017 campaign despite giving up a career-high 10.0 hits per nine. In eight starts, Stroman is 3-2 with an ERA of 3.33, recording ground balls at a 58.7% clip. He fits the mold Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich is trying to build with his starting rotation. Hard-throwing, sinking action creating ground ball outs.
A must at Coors Field.
With the absence of Jon Gray and Chad Bettis, Stroman would have likely been the teams ace moving forward, until Gray returns that is. Let’s just say that if he was in fact on the roster, he takes away a spot from the youth wave that is putting the Rockies on the map. One of these players, Antonio Senzatela, German Marquez, and/or Kyle Freeland, would be starting in Triple-A Albuquerque.
As of right now, Blackmon is arguably in the top three center fielders in the game. Mike Trout is the obvious choice at number one while players such as Lorenzo Cain, A.J. Pollock, and Kevin Pillar are very much in the mix.
Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins is a prime example of how valuable Chuck is to the Rockies. With Colorado leading 5-3 in the top half of the sixth inning, the lineup flipped over to Blackmon with a runner on. With one swing of the bat, the Rockies took a four-run lead thanks to a two-run shot from Blackmon. Earlier in the game, he fought off a tough pitch to bloop a single to right field to make it 2-0, Colorado. Both hits came with two outs.
Keep in mind this is a leadoff hitter producing as if he were batting third or fourth in the order.
In 38 games this season, Blackmon is slashing at a line of .319/.360/.619 with nine doubles, six triples, nine home runs, and 30 RBI with an OPS+ of 129. For comparison, Charlie has an OPS+ of 108 for his career.
Blackmon currently leads all Major League center fielders in hits (51), triples (6), RBI (30), total bases (99), and extra-base hits (24-tied with Mike Trout).
Granted this trade made a little bit more sense at the time it was discussed due to the fact that Colorado has emerging young players such as David Dahl and Raimel Tapia — two outfield prospects that will be everyday players in the very new future. Those two, along with Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra make for a very crowed outfield. Not to mention, Ian Desmond is mainly playing in the outfield now due to the strong start from Mark Reynolds.
Unfortunately for Colorado, 23-year-old Dahl suffered a stress reaction in his right rib in Spring Training and has been out ever since. Dahl impressed in his first stint with the Rockies this past season, hitting .315 with 12 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, and 24 RBI in 63 games. The outfielder is on-track to take batting practice Wednesday afternoon which is a good sign moving forward but will make roster decisions that much tougher.
But there is a way to look at Blackmon as the most valuable player on this team, up to and including Nolan Arenado. Since the beginning of the 2016 season, only Bryce Harper has bested Blackmon in fWAR among NL outfielders. And he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
It’s a safe bet to say the Colorado Rockies made the right decision by keeping Charlie Blackmon on the roster.