Fantasy Baseball 2014: The Year of Charlie Blackmon?
Outfielder Charlie Blackmon has gotten off to an insane start in 2014. If you had told me a month ago that he was going to be a top 100 player in April, I would’ve scratched my head and given you a suspicious “alright, yeah whatever” look. If you told me he was going to be the No. 1 player, I would’ve strongly questioned your sanity.
We’re almost a full month into the 2014 season though and what do you know, Blackmon isn’t just the No. 1 player in fantasy baseball, he’s the number one player by a substantial margin.
Blackmon is currently doing his best Ted Williams impression: his .410 AVG is the best in MLB to go with 19 runs (second-best), 16 RBIs (12th), five home runs (12th) and six steals (10th). Blackmon is also boasting a .282 ISO (10th), 5.8 percent strikeout rate (fifth), .491 wOBA (second) and 1.146 OPS (second).
Blackmon has been, without a doubt, the hottest hitter in baseball to open the season. What should we expect from the Colorado Rockies outfielder moving forward? Clearly we should expect some regression, but how much?
To answer the question simply, I expect a tremendous amount of regression. First off, Blackmon, along with every other Rockies hitter, has clearly benefited from the cool, thin April air at Coors field. In 51 plate appearances at home, Blackmon has a slash line of .478/.510/.913 to go with five home runs, 17 runs and 14 RBIs.
In 35 plate appearances on the road, Blackmon has a slash line of .313/.371/.375 to go with zero home runs and just two runs and RBIs apiece. Blackmon has shown absolutely no power on the road so far this season and as it warms up in Denver, the Coors effect will become less significant.
Secondly, Blackmon is currently being helped by an unsustainable .391 BABIP. He has routinely had a higher than average BABIP rates (.366 last season in 258 plate appearances, .341 career over 567 plate appearances) so while I don’t necessarily expect it to regress to the league average, I do expect it to drop at least 50 points.
Third, Blackmon is also being helped by an even more unsustainable 21.7 percent HR/FB rate. Over the course of his major league career, he’s had a very average 9.7 percent HR/FB and he’s never hit more than 14 home runs in a season (counting both majors and minors).
Blackmon is currently on pace to hit 37 home runs this season. Are we really supposed to believe that he’s all of a sudden made a Jose Bautista-like jump in power? I don’t think so.
If you can sell Blackmon for anything that could help your team, I strongly encourage you to do so. Now is the perfect time to shoot for the moon and take advantage of either: a) an impatient owner who can no longer wait for their withering star to turn it around or b) someone who naively believes that Charlie Blackmon can keep up an elite level of production.
Is your team short on saves? Could you use an upgrade in the infield? Do you need to add depth in your rotation? Why not try and flip Charlie Blackmon into Craig Kimbrel or Greg Holland (or even easier, Aroldis Chapman, who is expected to be back within the next few weeks).
How about a struggling star infielder like Edwin Encarnacion, Allen Craig or Dustin Pedroia? Or a starter like Madison Bumgarner, Anibal Sanchez or Hisashi Iwakuma (also expected to be back within a few weeks)?
Blackmon is the hottest hitter in baseball, but as the weather warms up, his bat will cool down. Sell him for all you can get and don’t think twice.