Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon’s NL MVP Case

Although he may not be the obvious choice, Charlie Blackmon has a worthy case for the NL MVP

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Charlie Blackmon had arguably one of the best seasons for a leadoff hitter in MLB history. While that is impressive, Blackmon also has a compelling argument to earn the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award.    

The stats

Statistically, Blackmon had a sensational year. He won the NL batting title with a .331 batting average, eight points higher than the next best, recorded by Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy. He recorded a .399 OBP, which ranked ninth in the NL. One might conclude that he does not walk frequently, but his walk percentage is 8.97%, which is above average in MLB today.

Blackmon also scored 137 runs, most in all of baseball. While having another worthy candidate in Nolan Arenado hitting behind Blackmon contributed to him scoring so often, he also runs the bases well. Blackmon recorded 14 stolen bases and got caught stealing ten times, but still recorded a 2.0 BsR. Despite his poor stolen base percentage, he is still two runs better than the average runner in the league.

Blackmon also broke the MLB record for runs batted in recorded by a leadoff hitter. Blackmon drove in 104 runs during the season, 103 of which he drove in while batting leadoff and thus breaking Darin Erstad’s previous record of 100 RBIs from the leadoff spot in 2000. Blackmon’s 104 total RBI were also good enough to finish eighth in the NL in the same category. That ranking is especially impressive when considering the other players on the list have leadoff hitters in front of them while Blackmon usually has a pitcher hitting in front of him.      

Blackmon also displayed impressive power by hitting 37 home runs and recording a slugging percentage of .601. Those numbers were good enough for third and second in the NL, respectively.  

With all of this output, Blackmon was one of the most productive hitters in the NL. He finished second in the NL with a .414 weighted on-base average (wOBA) and tenth with 141 weighted runs created (wRC+). These figures show that he is the second most valuable hitter in the NL and if he produces 41 more runs than the average hitter.  

The Argument against him

Blackmon’s two noteworthy competitors for the NL MVP are Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt.

Stanton produced one of the more prolific seasons in recent memory, as he led the majors with 59 HRs, .631 SLG, and 132 RBI. Despite his comparatively low .281 BA, he still had a .376 OBP, .410 wOBA and 156 wRC+. But unlike Blackmon or Goldschmidt, Stanton did not play for a playoff team.

Goldschmidt generated excellent numbers as well. With a .297 BA, .404 OBP, .563 SLG, 36 HRs, 120 RBIs, .400 wOBA and 142 wRC+, he was the best hitter on a playoff team that beat the Rockies. But unlike Blackmon or even Stanton to an extent, Goldschmidt did not produce a historic season.

One of the biggest arguments against Charlie Blackmon is that he plays in the launching pad of Coors Field, especially considering the splits between Blackmon’s home and away numbers. At home, Blackmon had a .391 BA, .466 OBP, .773 SLG, 24 HRs, 60 RBIs, .503 wOBA and 185 wRC+. Of those numbers, he did not top the NL in OBP, HRs, and RBIs at home. Only Joey Votto had a better OBP at home (.474), and only Stanton hit more home runs at home (31). 

On the road, however, Blackmon’s numbers dropped drastically, as he had a .276 BA, .337 OBP, .531 SLG, 13 HRs, 44 RBIs, .333 wOBA and 102 wRC+. At home, he is the best hitter in the league, but on the road, he is only slightly above average. But almost every hitter hits worse at home than they do on the road, and Blackmon’s competitors are no different. Stanton’s line at home was a .340 BA, .411 OBP, .673 SLG, 31 HRs, 68 RBIs, .440 wOBA, and 179 wRC+. Away from home, Stanton hit .269 BA, .342 OBP, .595 SLG, 28 HRs, 64 RBIs, .382 wOBA and 135 wRC+. Goldschmidt’s hit for .321 BA, .443 OBP, .639 SLG, 20 HRs, 61 RBIs, .442 wOBA and 165 wRC+ at home while he hit. .275 BA, .363 OBP, .489 SLG, 16 HRs, 59 RBIs, .358 wOBA, 119 wRC+ on the road. All three have similar splits, but Blackmon’s is a bit wider.

Overall, he had one of the best seasons a leadoff hitter has ever had. He not only got on base, the primary responsibility of a leadoff man, but he also generated runs by hitting other runners in and hitting home runs. No other leadoff man in the history of the MLB has had the same impact on a team as Charlie Blackmon had on this team, and he should be rewarded accordingly as this year’s NL MVP.