Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon has been off to a hot start in 2018, which is satisfying because he signed a six-year contract a couple of weeks ago.
Through 79 plate appearances, the 31-year old veteran is hitting .304/.392/.696 with a wRC+ of 180 while walking at an abnormally high rate in the early going — his strikeouts are also up. Blackmon’s early success has been fueled by a power surge that has led to eight home runs through the first few weeks of the season which is confirmed by his insane ISO of .391 and a wOBA of .440. This early season power surge is quite a bit out-of-place for an outfielder whose career path has been that of a contact hitter; which raises the question of is this power surge sustainable?
As noted above, Blackmon hasn’t usually hit with a ton of power throughout his career…outside of 2017. Last season the veteran hit .331/.399/.601 with a career high isolated slugging percentage of .270; that uptick in power also came with an uptick in his strikeout rate as well.
But the weird thing about his power surge over the last season and three weeks is that he’s done it without seeing a major increase in his medium hit balls — hard hit balls spiked up to 39% in 2017, but it’s currently at four-year low in 2018. Even his fly ball rate was hovering around 36 to 37% for his career, including 2017, before spiking up to 45.7% through the first few weeks of this season. It’s going to be interesting to see if his flyball rate drops down to his career norms as the season moves along, and how that will impact his power numbers too.
It’s likely that Blackmon’s flyball rate will decrease and his power numbers will fall as a result. But that’ll still drop him into a similar range as he was last season with a wRC+ hanging out around 140 while being worth roughly five to six wins in 2018.
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