The go-with-the-pitch approach is starting to show dividends after a slow start. He was hitting .219 through May 11, but from May 13 to May 30, Blackmon hit safely in 14 of his 15 games. He hit .279 with an .828 OPS, three home runs and 10 RBIs. He batted .344 over his last eight contests.
Blackmon noted that while he has been rewarded for hard contact, he’s not getting the soft hits that inflate an average. But he’ll eventually be better off earning the hits he gets.
“I just want to be better at the game,” said Blackmon, who is hitting .241 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs overall. “If you’re swinging at balls consistently or you have a bad approach consistently, that’s going to lead to more outs. I want to play the game efficiently, more consistently. I’m probably going to hit fewer balls hard way out of the zone now.”
The controlled approach has extended to batting practice. In the past, for example, hitting pitches in various locations the opposite way to left-center was a big part of Blackmon’s preparation. Blackmon does that sometimes, but now his preference is to have a middle-of-the-field thought process, which pushes him to swing at strikes.
“Maybe I could hit balls harder out of the zone more consistently, I don’t know,” Blackmon explained. “But, ultimately, I’m not really wanting to hit balls out of the zone. Balls that I project to hit harder, those are the balls I want to swing at. Not the others.
“I miss pitches in the zone just like everybody else — probably more than I’d like to, that’s for sure. But [I] like my swing, I like my approach. I feel like my timing is pretty good.”
Manager Bud Black has used Blackmon in right field and as a designated hitter and even removed him late in games, all prudent for a player who turns 36 on July 1. He likes the control Blackmon is showing.
“When Charlie’s at his best — when every hitter is at his best is when he’s hitting the ball where it’s pitched, not trying to do too much, not taking his biggest, hardest swing, recognizing the situation,” Black explained. “All the things when you’re going good are happening for Charlie.”