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“That’s Amore!” Chuck Nazty: One of the Best Top-of-the-Order Hitters

It’s not everyday that you find a player that hits at the top of the lineup that can do it all. A player that can hit home runs, score runs, driver in runs, and steal bases is fantasy gold. Charlie Blackmon has become not only one of the most consistent fantasy baseball players, but one of the most consistent Major League player. He’s put together four consecutive seasons of 17+ home runs, 80+ runs scored, 14+ stolen bases (two of the four with 28 and 43), and an average slash line of .307/.365/.510. While the stolen bases have taken a considerable hit, the power numbers have increased, and he’s currently on pace for a second season with 30+ home runs, 90 RBI, and 100+ runs scored. This has made him a first round draft pick, and his average ADP of 8.0 his hard to argue against. This week, I’ll be breaking down Charlie Blackmon in “That’s Amore!” Chuck Nazty: One of the Best Top-of-the-Order Hitters.

We see it all the time where players are drafted out of high school, elect to go to college, and then get drafted again. Blackmon is one of the few players that has been drafted in three different drafts. In 2004, he was selected by the Marlins in the 28th round. Following his first year at Young Harris College, Blackmon was selected in the 20th round by the Boston Red Sox. After transferring to Georgia Tech and distinguishing himself as one of the top outfielders in the nation the Rockies selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft. Since, Blackmon has become one of the top centerfields in Major League Baseball, and one of the best fantasy players in the game.

2017 was one of the best performances we’ve seen in a longtime from a leadoff man. Charlie Blackmon broke Darin Erstad’s 2000 record of 100 RBI by a leadoff man driving in 104 runners. Numerous times, we see prototypical leadoff men that make a knack of getting on base. Very rarely do we see leadoff men with 30+ home run potential. Power was one of Blackmon’s top assets and this attributed to him finishing 25th in Major League Baseball with a 39.0% Hard Contact%. Charlie doesn’t get cheated on pitches, and make solid contact when he takes a rip. Yes, playing at Coors field helps numerous hitters, and it significantly attributed to Blackmon’s Home/Away splits. During the 2017 season, Blackmon slashed .391/.466/.773 with 24 home runs and 60 RBI at Coors compared to .276/.337/.447 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI on the road. Still, his away stats were more than respectable.

Looking at plate discipline, Blackmon was rarely fooled at pitches inside the hitting zone compiling a Z-Contact% of 90.1% (T-38th in MLB). The players tied with him were Anaheim’s Mike Trout and Seattle’s Jean Segura. He was one of the best at getting on base and finished the season fourth in wOBA with .414 weight on-base average. The only players to finish higher than Blackmon were Mike Trout (.437), Aaron Judge (.430), and Joey Votto (.428). All three players entered the 2018 as first-round draft picks.

During the 2017 season, Blackmon accumulated 636 at-bats in the leadoff spot, seven batting third, and one at-bat batting ninth. Fast-forwarding to this season, Blackmon has split time between leadoff and the third spot in the Rockies’ lineup accumulating 39 at-bats at leadoff, and 25 batting third. He’s off to another torrid start slashing .281/.378/.656 with eight home runs (the eighth coming Sunday against Chicago), 14 RBI, and 15 runs scored. His eight home runs see him tied for second with Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, one behind league-leader Mike Trout.

What makes Blackmon one of the best top-of-the-order hitters is his ability to have multi-hit games. Early into the 2018 season, he’s tied for fourth with six. 2017 huge season saw him finish in the top-five in multiples categories. He was first with 387 total bases, first with 725 plate appearances, first in hits (213), fourth in number of pitches seen 2884), and fourth with 86 extra-base hits. He finished the season with 68 multi-hit games earning him the 2017 National League batting title. It’s hard to argue with the 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton had, but it’s head scratching that Blackmon lead in numerous offensive categories and only finished with 205 votes finishing second in the NL MVP race.

I look for Chuck Nazty to finish 2018 in another big way. Early on, he’s locked in at the plate and it’s easy to see in his power numbers. While his days of 20+ stolen bases look to be in the rearview mirror, there’s much to be excited for in a player that should push 30+ home runs, 100+ runs scored, and 90+ RBI at the top-of-the-order. If you drafted Blackmon, or own him in keeper leagues, be thankful to have a player that has been extremely durable averaging 153 games played since 2014. Simply put, Fear the Beard!

 

I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. I underwent successful Tommy John Surgery in 2008, and can give a wide-range of tips on the surgery and rehabilitation. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as Serie A football [Forza Rossoneri!]. 2018 will be my fourth writing for Major League Fantasy Sports, and each season gets better than the previous. 2016 was very emotional for Cubs fans alike. After 108 years, they finally scaled the mountaintop! "Baseball been berry, berry good to me!"

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