The Rockies are in a hard place right now, but first-year manager Bud Black is not likely to move Charlie Blackmon out of the leadoff spot in an effort to spark a sluggish offense.
“There are some people who might think that Charlie is having an MVP season,” Black said when asked about the possibility of moving Blackmon down in the order to take advantage of his power. “You can spin this anyway you want, but with Charlie leading off, it gives us a dynamic at-bat starting the game. His on-base percentage, his power, and maybe his comfort level of leading off, I think more than anything, might figure into him staying put.”
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Blackmon led the National League with a .340 average, and was leading the majors in runs scored (117), hits (180), triples (14), multi-hit games (57) and total bases (329). His 31 home runs and 83 RBIs rank No. 1 among all big-league leadoff hitters.
The Rockies’ offense, though, is under-performing, especially over the last month. Colorado’s 4-3 loss to Detroit Monday night marked the 14th time in its last 20 games the team scored three or fewer runs. The Rockies are batting .223 with runners in scoring position in August and were hitting only .181 with runners in scoring position in their last 11 games heading into Tuesday night.
Still, Black doesn’t believe the solution is to move Blackmon, in part because the Rockies don’t have another leadoff hitter nearly as effective as him.
“If Charlie hits third or fourth, because of his power, than we have to make a decision about who hits first and second,” Black said. “So that’s the question: whether we have those guys to hit one or two in the order. Some might argue that you do, with either DJ (LeMahieu) or (Gerardo) Parra or (Ian) Desmond.”
Parra has hit leadoff in 205 games in his career, batting .281 with a .331 on-base percentage. This season, he’s hitting .342 with a .373 on-base percentage, but he’s drawn only 15 walks in 327 plate appearances. Plus, leading off requires a different mentality than hitting in the middle of the lineup.
Nolan’s woes. Nolan Arenado was a very unhappy player Monday night. After he lined out to second base in the ninth inning, he threw his bat with a surge of anger.
“It was because of the whole night,” Arenado said. “I struck out with the bases loaded and with less than two outs (in the sixth inning). I didn’t feel good about that. I take a lot of pride in that and I feel like I have done a pretty good job of that this season, but not last night.
“I have not been hitting the ball very well, of late, and when I do, it’s right at somebody, so it’s frustrating.”
CarGo update. Veteran right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was a late scratch before Monday’s game because of a sore left foot and ankle, was feeling better Tuesday. He was not in the starting lineup, but he was available to pinch hit. He doesn’t appear to have an injury that would require time on the disabled list.