21 Year Old Cody Bellinger Continues to Mash

Sunday’s Game

Cody Bellinger is at it again. On Sunday in the Los Angeles Dodgers comeback victory against the Colorado Rockies, Cody Bellinger had yet another multi-home run game. For the game, Bellinger was 3-5 with an infield single to go along with his two home runs. This marks the sixth time Bellinger has hit multiple home runs in a single game so far this season. The Ace Of Spaeder Twitter account notes that Bellinger has taken the fewest games ever to hit this mark in just 57 games:

As well ESPN Stats & Info Twitter posted that six multi-home run games are the second best ever for a rookie, behind only Mark McGwire’s 7:

The Leaderboards

Last week I wrote about Bellinger being the fastest MLB player to hit 21 home runs, doing so in just 51 games. Nothing has changed for him, having clobbered three home runs in the next six games. But what has changed as of yesterday was finally get enough at-bats to qualify for the offensive leaderboards. Here are some of the categories where he figures prominently in the MLB:

HR – 2nd (26)

wRC+ – 5th (157)

SLG % – 2nd (.679)

RBI – 10th (55)

fWAR – T-19th (2.5)

The even more amazing thing about him is that he has played only 57 games, compared to the 70-plus games that every other hitter in the top 10 has played.

Dodger’s Spark Plug

Not only has Bellinger been among the league’s very best hitters since joining the team, but he has been a major part of the Dodgers surge of wins the past two months. On the morning of 4/25, the Dodgers record sat at 9-11 with the team struggling to find a winning streak. Since Bellinger joined the team, they are an incredible 42-15. The team overall is hitting .260/.345/.461 with a 114 wRC+, good for third in the MLB in that time.

Even more recently, the Dodgers have won a sizzling 16 of their last 17 games. In doing so, they have taken control of the NL West, putting them 2.5 games ahead of the Dbacks and 4.5 games above the formerly first place Rockies. In that time, Bellinger has been huge for the Dodgers with his best hot streak of the season hitting .328/.387/.955 with twelve home runs. However, he has not been the only one hitting for the Dodgers, as Corey Seager has been ablaze hitting .389/.484/.759 with 5 HR and Justin Turner has been just as hot with .431/.540/.725 and 4 HR in those 17 games.

Awards

After helping the Dodgers go a perfect 7-0 this past week, Bellinger earned his second NL Player of the Week honors hitting .370/.400/1.037 with 5 HR and 12 RBI. This was actually a crowded field this week with teammates Justin Turner and Joc Pederson going nuts with the bat as well. Then there was Curtis Granderson, Michael Taylor, Anthony Rendon and Scooter Gennett all with big weeks as well. Though all were tremendous, none were as huge for their teams as Bellinger was.

Although we are a week short of the end of June, it looks like he also has a gigantic lead for the NL Player of the Month as well. With five days remaining in the month, Bellinger has hit .307/.367/.841 with 13 HR 26 RBI 4 SB and 1.6 fWAR, just behind Judge (1.8 fWAR) for the MLB lead in the month. Players like Paul Goldschmidt, Curtis Granderson, and Andrew Mccutchen have been great, they would need one heck of a final five games to make up the huge chasm that currently exists.

Going Forward

Looking back to the pre-season Steamer Projections, Bellinger was not supposed to be a big player for the 2017 Dodgers. Even though he was a top 50 prospect for most publications, he was only projected for 51 PA and only 2 HR. Taking a look now at the rest of season projections, he is projected to hit .260/.330/.579 with 38 HR and accumulate 3.2 fWAR in nearly 500 PA.

Things have been so great with Bellinger on the team that many Dodger fans are wondering when Adrian Gonzalez returns from injury if we will even see him take back first base as a starter. One of the many great things about Bellinger is that he can not only play Gold Glove-level defense at 1B, but can play average defense in both left and center fields. It’s always possible that Gonzalez would take back 1B while Bellinger settles into LF, but others have been mulling over the idea of trading for an upgrade in LF while making Bellinger the full-time 1B.

Either way, Bellinger is not going anywhere and is likely to stay in Los Angeles for the long haul, leaving the minor leagues in the dust.

The one last thought on this is looking back at recent Dodger home run leaders. As mentioned in the previous article, the Dodgers have not had a 40-plus home run season since Adrian Beltre in 2004. They have not had a 30-plus home run season since Matt Kemp in 2011. Not only could Bellinger best Piazza’s Dodger rookie HR mark of 35, but could be one of 5 LA Dodgers ever to hit 40.

Sitting here on 6/26, it seems like a real possibility.