Charlie Blackmon didn’t have to slide head-first into first base. Not with his team ahead by three runs in the early going and only one out recorded. He was still going to get the RBI, and the second inning was going to continue either way. But Blackmon did barrel into first base face-first Wednesday, saving an out in the process.
“You can argue with me on this, but you’ve got to get their faster if you go head first,” Blackmon said. “I think they did a Sports Science, and they proved it otherwise. Once you leave your feet you start slowing down. But I wouldn’t want to slide to first base. I’d want to hit it as I go by. I think that was the difference in my opinion.”
The science is sketchy. But what can’t be debated is the focus and intensity Blackmon devotes to his craft.
Blackmon went 3-for-6 and drove in three runs Wednesday as his team earned a critical 15-9 win over the Miami Marlins. In doing so, Blackmon raised his batting average to .328 and crossed the 100-RBI mark. Ninety-nine of Blackmon’s RBI have come as the leadoff hitter this season. Only Darin Erstad, who drove in 100 from the top spot of the order in 2000, has ever finished a season with more.
“This is a great season for Charlie,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “I don’t know where it ranks. But we’re witnessing a very solid season. We’re going to look back on this years from now, and hopefully in the present we’ll continue to talk about it. But this is a really good year from a really good player.”
A “very solid season” is putting it lightly. Wednesday marked Blackmon’s 66th multi-hit game of the season, tying the franchise record Dante Bichette set in 1998. Blackmon’s 208 hits this season are the most in the MLB, and the 379 total bases he’s racked up are the most ever by a leadoff hitter. The production mixed with effort make Blackmon the drumbeat that makes the Rockies go.
“He sets the tone for how we play leading off the game and just his style,” Black said. “He’s a guy that plays with an up-beat tempo. You watch players how they run on and off the field, it tells you a lot. You watch him run on and off the field. It should tell you what we think about Charlie.”
Blackmon moves with purpose, as Black observed. It shows up in his runs onto the field between innings, his at bats and, Wednesday showed, in sprint-and-slides into first base.
“I thought I could get a hit out of it,” Blackmon said. “I thought I would be safe if I slid. Everything happened kind of fast. I really wanted to be safe. So I did the only thing I knew how to do to maybe make it a little bit closer to being safe, which was dive head first. Which I would not advise. Because that’s not a good idea. I wouldn’t try it at home.”
Subscribe to Denverite’s weekly sports newsletter here.