In the past, being a hitter who plays the majority of their games at Coors Field was a bad thing. Sportswriters and talking heads all touted how easy it is to hit at the mile-high ballpark. They spoke of how numbers were inflated and how the geological location of a player’s home ballpark should be taken into account when deciding their Hall of Fame candidacy.
I’m of course talking about Larry Walker, and his long, arduous walk to Cooperstown. But here in 2020, a different kind of conversation has been taking place around a different Rockies outfielder with a similar response.
Charlie Blackmon has been absolutely tearing the cover off of the ball in this truncated 2020 season. Through 23 games this season, Blackmon has amassed 39 hits, more than any other player in the Majors. Going along with his offense prowess is Blackmon’s preposterous .429 batting average.
And since a lot of talking heads have had nothing to talk about for months, the question of the validity of Blackmon’s season over .400, should he reach that milestone, comes into play. Should Charlie Blackmon’s season, should he finish with his average above .400, be considered alongside Ted Williams .406 effort?
The answer is complicated, but let’s cut right to the point.
Yes. Yes, it should.
If Charlie Blackmon hits over .400 in the 2020 season, it should be considered as a momentous achievement. However, like all things in the 2020 season, it’ll come with an asterisk.
Now, in the pantheon of asterisks given out to season stats, this one is the clearest. Did Roger Maris deserve an asterisk on his 61 home runs because he had a few more games to hit them in? No, not at all. And if he did, that decision should have been made once they expanded the season.
You cannot disqualify a record while it’s being broken. Moving the goalposts in the face of change is a garbage move. If you feel that way, ask yourself this question: if maintaining the history of the game is important, then why strive for new heights if the game’s biggest achievements get capped?
This begs the question: does the entire 2020 season need an asterisk? Yes, absolutely. In the same way that we all look back fondly at the “Greatest Team to Never Win a Ring” or Griffey’s best shot at besting Roger Maris years before McGwire and Sosa did, we need to look at this season as a weird outlier.
If this season doesn’t count as a full season, then we should shut it all down. One team is going to lift the World Series trophy at the end of this. One team is going to raise a banner on Opening Day in 2021. Is that World Series legitimate? It has to be. It has to mean something.
And if it doesn’t, then why do we all care so much about any of this?
If Charlie Blackmon finishes the season with a batting average over .400, you can’t say he didn’t hit .400 over a season. However, you’ll have to say “but it was in 2020.” That’s the trade off.
And frankly, I’m rooting for him to do it. It’ll be nice to have something to cheer about this year.
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