Blackmon belts 7th leadoff homer of season

Blackmon belts 7th leadoff homer of season

DENVER -- Although the Rockies didn't come out on top in a 7-5 loss to the Rangers Tuesday, center fielder Charlie Blackmon set the tone with a leadoff home run.

That's become a regular occurrence for Blackmon. It was his seventh this season, and his 19 leadoff homers -- a club record -- since 2013 lead all of baseball.

"I think I have a good feel for when to have certain approaches," Blackmon said. "Sometimes I'm taking the home run out of play. I might still hit one, but I'm not necessarily trying to. And then there's other times when it's OK to be aggressive."

Facing a right-hander early in the game, this was a chance for Blackmon to get aggressive. That approach, combined with him feeling at his best, has allowed his slugging percentage to rise to .620 in the first inning -- compared to .442 in all other innings.

"I think in the first inning I feel pretty fresh," Blackmon said. "We've played long games and a lot of games so far, so right out of the gate you've got a lot of energy to go."

This more calculated approach is somewhat similar to how he has dealt with stolen-base attempts this season. While he won't finish close to the 71 bases he swiped over the last two seasons, he's being more selective and still stealing at a high rate.

Blackmon stole 28 bases at a 73.7 percent success rate in 2014; 43 bases at a 76.8 percent success rate in '15; and he's swiped 14 bases at a 73.7 percent success rate this season.

Blackmon hasn't stolen as many bases in part because the big bats behind him -- DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado are hitting a combined .311 -- don't require him to take an extra base here and there and risk an out to score.

And the fewer steals have been counter-balanced by his recent uptick in power and a .308 batting average.

"He's become a dual threat in that leadoff spot, a power-speed guy," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Charlie's having another really good year."

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.