At the trade deadline last year, and then again over the winter, Cody Bellinger was labeled absolutely not available for trade. And now we are seeing why.
Waking up this morning and perusing Twitter, lots of little interesting stats are popping up on my timeline. Per Elias Sports, Cody Bellinger is the only player since 1900 to have four multi-homer games in his first 45 games. He’s the first lefty to hit to hit home runs in the 8th and 9th innings of a game, both off lefties, since Ken Griffey Jr in May of 2000 in Houston. One of those home runs last night was off Andrew Miller, and it was the first home run Miller had surrendered this season. And since his debut on April 25, Bellinger has 17 home runs, which is most in MLB in that time period, and the Dodgers have a record 31-14, the best record in baseball.
Bellinger isn’t even supposed to be with the big club yet. But due to his high caliber play on the farm coupled with multiple injuries on the big league squad, he’s up and he’s here to stay. He already has the team lead in home runs and RBI. He became the first Dodger to hit 11 home runs in 32 games.
Cody is doing this all pretty quietly, too. All eyes in the baseball world are focused on New York City and one Aaron Judge. The 6’7″ Yankee outfielder burst onto the scene with his monstrous homers, and currently leads all players in All-Star votes. Everywhere you look, MLB is pushing Judge as the new face of baseball. Even though Bellinger leads one of the most iconic teams in home runs, his name isn’t really being brought up for the Home Run Derby.
But all of that is ok. New York City is a highly intense media market, and Judge seems to be a once in a generation power hitter. Bellinger has quietly led the Dodgers back into first place. And the team needs him now more than ever with the latest news about Adrian Gonzalez and his back issues.
Gonzalez left Sunday’s game after the sixth inning when his back “locked up,” accornding to manager Dave Roberts. AGon had an MRI Tuesday, which showed that he was dealing with the same herniated disc issue that had landed him on the DL earlier this season. No surgery is required at this time, but Gonzalez will have a second opinion. He will return to the 10-day DL, although Roberts told reporters that they will give Gonzalez as much time as he needs to recuperate from his injury.
While he has been doing a great job in left field, Cody is a natural first baseman. Chris Taylor will be moving over to left field from his previous position in center, now that Joc Pederson is back with the club.
It also appears that Scott Van Slyke may be back to his old productive self. Jacob Unruh, who covers the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, talked more about it on Wednesday. Van Slyke could be brought back up to help cover first, should another DL stint hit someone else on the team.
What it all adds up to is that this is a scary lineup top to bottom. It has a good mix of old and new, power and consistency. If that flies under the radar, that’s fine with me. People will notice in the playoffs.
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