Blackmon hitting more opposite-field homers

August 19th, 2017

DENVER -- Even Rockies leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon isn't sure what to make of a recent happy trend.

Blackmon opened Friday night's 8-4 victory over the Brewers with his career-high-tying 29th homer. It went the opposite way to left-center field -- which is becoming less unusual.

The left-handed-hitting Blackmon's power traditionally has been to the pull side. But his last three homers at Coors Field have gone the other way -- and the one before that went to dead-center. Counting what was ruled an inside-the-park homer against the Mets at Citi Field on July 16 (the ball cleared the fence, but umpires ruled it didn't), four of his nine homers since the All-Star break have gone the other way.

"I haven't done that a lot," Blackmon said. "I would prefer to pull the ball really hard. But I guess it's not a bad thing."

Looking at Blackmon's home run spray chart, five home runs to center since the break is a startling development. Statcast™ home run spray charts show that of last year's 29 homers, one was to left and one other to center. The rest were pull shots. Of his 17 homers in 2015, one was barely left of center and one was dead-center.

Statcast™ has been officially tracking batted balls since 2015. Blackmon debuted in '11 and had one homer -- to right-center. A Fangraphs chart from '12-14 showed no opposite-field or center-field homers.

Overall, though, Blackmon's ability to hit balls where they're pitched has much to do with his .337 batting average, which is second in the National League to the Dodgers' 's .345 (compiled in 94 games and 333 at-bats, as opposed to Blackmon's 120 games and 492 at-bats -- more time for fatigue or slumps).

"He's hitting above .330 because he's using the whole field," Rockies manager Bud Black said after Friday's game. "He's going line to line. He's got opposite-field power. He can hit the ball in the gaps. He battles well with two strikes. That was a two-strike home run."

But Blackmon said that wasn't the case on Friday's homer off the Brewers' Matt Garza.

"That ball was [in the] middle," Blackmon said. "I'd rather pull that ball because I can hit it farther if I pull it. But if you're still getting it in the gap or over somebody's head, I guess it doesn't really matter which way you hit it."