It was a magical first season for the first baseman of the Dodgers. Cody Bellinger originally was planning on spending most of the year in at Triple-A Oklahoma City and joining the big club with the rest of the September call-ups. But as we know, life doesn’t always go according to plan.
The Dodgers’ veteran first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit the DL for the first time in his career, leading to Bellinger being activated on April 25. The 22-year old wasted no time in proving that he had the goods to be in the big leagues. He hit nine home runs in May and 13 in June. He was the NL Rookie of the Month for both May and June. He made the NL All-Star team, and competed in the Home Run Derby, losing in the second round to the eventual winner and fellow Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge.
Bellinger ended his rookie season with 39 home runs, which became the record for a rookie in the National League, and good enough for the second most hit on the Senior Circuit. He hit for the cycle on July 15, only the third Dodger ever to have done so. All in all, he ended the season with a .267/.352/.581/.933 slash line and a 4.2 WAR.
Defensively he played 93 games at first base, and 46 games in the outfield, mostly in left field, but played at all three positions in the outfield. Fans will not soon forget his stellar plays at first, which included leaping in the air for a throw and tagging out the runner before he landed, and making that incredible grab while falling over the dugout railing and almost taking out his manager Dave Roberts.
2018 will be the first full season in the big leagues for Bellinger, and as the team’s full time first baseman, as Gonzalez was traded to Atlanta in December. Bellinger did see a little time on the 10-Day DL last season, due to landing awkwardly on his ankle while playing right field in August.
Cody has made his nutrition and workouts a priority this offseason. He has added 15 pounds of muscle which will serve him well for the grind of a long season.
“I’m 100% taking it seriously,” he told MLB.com‘s Ken Gurnick. He also added, “I know what a full season is like in the big leagues. It’s not going to be a surprise anymore. I know what I need to do to keep my body in shape for 162 games.”
Baseball-Reference projects the left-handed hitting first baseman to slash .271/.355/.564/.919 with 23 doubles and 31 home runs. FantasyPros has him at .258/.340/.530/.870 with 25 doubles and 38 home runs. Steamer closely agrees with that, slating him to have a .253/.340/.516 slash line with 39 homers.
In the World Series, Bellinger struck out 17 times in 28 ABs. It could be that the Astros figured him out, or he just picked a bad time to have a slump.
Look for Belliger to regress a bit, but I don’t think there will be much of a sophomore slump for the phenom. MLB Network ranked him number five of all first basemen in the majors. That’s a pretty good vote of confidence in him, and we can look forward to another season of long bombs and excellent defense from him.
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