Monday Musings: Is Cody Bellinger in the Majors to Stay?

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If you followed any of my posts last year here at TBPC, you’ll know that most of them were titled to match a song that struck me as being relevant to whatever was happening that week in Dodgers baseball. While I haven’t continued with that this season, a song keeps popping into my head about this situation with Cody Bellinger, Adrian Gonzalez, and aging players being replaced by younger ones — Its Sad To Belong by England Dan and John Ford Coley. You know the one — “Yes it’s sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along.”

Now I’m not saying that this is exactly the same as thinking you missed out on the great love of your life — it’s quite the opposite, as we get to enjoy both these players on the team for awhile. But in a way, it does. Some fans are ready to put AGon out to pasture in favor of the young phenom Bellinger. And given that small sample size of the 11 games that Bellinger has been in the big leagues, you can see why they are thinking that.

It would seem that a team with as high a payroll as the Dodgers wouldn’t need a shot in the arm to get the offense going, but that’s where they found themselves. Due to injuries and other circumstances, they were looking for some sort of spark. Cue Bellinger joining the big league squad. While he had a bit of a slow start, since his call up his slash line is .357/.413/.786/1.119 with 14 RBI, a double, a triple, and five home runs, including two multi-homer games. The Dodgers are 8-3 in that time span.

Bellinger is living up to the hype as one of the non-tradable pieces in the Dodgers farm system. He’s a plus-plus player that has obviously excelled at the bat, and is also handling both outfield and first base duties well. Some are going as far to compare him to Ted Williams, in both the play and looks department. (To be clear, Joe Davis is not advocating that is he the second coming of Williams here, but I agree, it can be fun to compare.)

Or is it? It really is too soon to compare Bellinger to anyone but himself. Major League pitching will presumably adjust to him, as they have every other player, and we’ll see what he does from there. (How does one adjust to this, though?)

Today, Bellinger was named the NL Player of the Week. Ironically, he is the first Player of the Week for the a Dodger position player since Adrain Gonzalez was  in April of 2015. During this timeframe, Bellinger was first in RBI, tied for first in slugging percentage (1.000), tied for second in home runs, tied for third in batting average and runs scored, tied for fourth in total bases (21) , and tied for fifth in extra base hits.

One thing is clear, Bellinger is the future of the Dodgers organization at first base. He was called up with the intent of him getting his feet wet so he would be better prepared when he came up for good later in the season. But his strong play has almost made that limited time a mute point. And with Adrian Gonzalez dealing with multiple ailments, where does that leave him? Gonzalez’s contract runs though the end of the 2018 season, and if Bellinger continues to play like this, Cody will push this issue more and more.

Skipper Dave Roberts is a very good friend of AGon’s, having been teammates with him in San Diego. Roberts is unlikely to give Bellinger the starting job at first base after Gonzalez returns from his stint on the DL. And he shouldn’t. When healthy, AGon is one of the best first basemen out there, saving many an error with his teammates’ errant throws, always stretching with that foot still on the bag. And Vin Scully didn’t give him the nickname of “Butter and Eggs Man” for nothing. Bellinger could stay with the big league club floating in the outfield, and spelling AGon at first base when he needs a rest. If they don’t feel he’d get consistent playing time in that capacity, he’ll return to Triple-A so he can have that. But he will be back as soon as the roster dictates it can be so.

The more interesting thing will be what happens when Logan Forsythe returns from the DL, hopefully later this week. It seems it would come down to Bellinger or Chris Taylor being sent back down. Taylor also has played extremely well. Could he force the Dodgers to do something extreme with Chase Utley, who has had a very mediocre season? That’s a subject for another article, and a decision I don’t envy the front office of making. Regardless, the Dodgers are starting to hit their stride, whether it’s because of Bellinger or not. They have the reinforcements needed if one player or another is not producing, and although we as fans take the negative a little too far sometimes, watching is much more fun. Stay tuned for another interesting week.

(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERGIRLINPA)

 

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