Cody Bellinger Named 2019 National League MVP

(Photo Credit: David Crane/Southern California News Group)

The NL Most Valuable Player award was announced Thursday evening, and as was predicted from the very first month of the season, Cody Bellinger won his first MVP award.

“Just two years ago he was the National League Rookie of the Year, and now Cody Bellinger has the NL Most Valuable Player trophy as well,” Jack O’Connell, the Secretary treasurer for the BBWAA announced live on MLB Network.

Bellinger, surrounded by friends and family, including Cole Tucker of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was visibly moved when the award was announced. “It’s absolutely incredible. A little emotional, it’s pretty cool. It’s what you dream of man, for sure,” Bellinger remarked after learning of his win.

In his third season with the Dodgers, Bellinger appeared in a career-high 156 games, batting .305 with 37 doubles, 47 homers, and 115 RBI. He had career-highs in hits, runs scored, doubles, homers, RBI, walks and stolen bases. He also played three different positions and earned a Gold Glove in right field, something that may have swayed the voters in his direction.

Bellinger received 19 of the 30 first place votes and 10 second place votes, collecting 362 total points. Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich came in second with 10 first place and 18 second place votes, with a total of 317. Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals was third with one first, one second, and 24 third place votes for a total of 242 votes.

The Dodgers right fielder was the first Dodger position player to win NL MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988, and the first Dodger overall since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. He joins Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP, and Steve Garvey and Maury Wills as Dodgers that won both a Gold Glove and MVP in the same season.

Several people connected with the Dodgers weighed in with their thoughts of Bellinger and his MVP season.

Dodger President, Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said, “On behalf of our ownership and the entire Dodger organization, I want to congratulate Cody on this special award. From the moment the 2018 season ended, he was a man on a mission to better understand his swing and to become a more complete hitter. The results of that work are being rewarded in the ultimate way. His name will forever be etched in franchise history alongside the distinguished list of Dodger greats. This is a special day for Cody Bellinger, his family and the Dodgers.”

Dodger Manager Dave Roberts was equally as proud: “I want to congratulate Cody on a tremendous season. Playing every game with passion and a focus on winning a baseball game was the impetus for this MVP campaign. There wasn’t one part of his game that he didn’t dominate. Finally, I’d like to thank him for putting the Dodgers and his teammates above all else.”

Kershaw: “I had a ton of fun watching him this year. It’s very well-deserved. What everyone says is true—great talent, great athlete, all that stuff… but man, he’s just a great baseball player and there is nothing else to say. Congratulations, Cody!”

And last, but not least, from 1974 NL MVP Steve Garvey: “Cody’s season showcased a complete player who excelled on offense and defense, while leading his team to a record-setting regular season. The award establishes you in an elite fraternity as those chosen as the best player. It stays with you a lifetime and there’s only one winner in each league every season. I’m extremely proud of Cody.”


33 thoughts on “Cody Bellinger Named 2019 National League MVP

  1. I’m really happy for Belli, but let’s face it, if Yellich wasn’t hurt he probably would have won the award.
    Bellinger deserves it because of his spectacular contributions on both sides of the ball. His defense was truly amazing since he basically played Gold Glove ball at three positions. On the other hand, his offense declined as the season wore on and that’s why I think Yellich probably would have nosed him out if he had been playing at the end of the year.

    1. Throwing cold water on a great moment for the kid? Come on Jefe, I would like to see him finish strong next season and most of all improve in the playoffs. But he carried the team on his back for the better part of 2 months. Congrats to a budding super star.

      1. Not cold water, maybe a little lukewarm, but hey, I’m really happy for him and not saying he didn’t deserve it. Just saying if it had been Yellich I wouldn’t have run down the hall screaming “unfair”.
        Did you see where one of the 30 voters (Tracy Ringolsby) didn’t have either guy in his first three? Had them fourth and fifth with Rendon, Freeman and Arenado and his top three. Always some guy trying to get a little free publicity, even if it’s bad pub.

      2. Yelich was OPS’n 1.237 for September/October after OPS’n .939 the month before. Bellinger put up an OPS of over .800 the last month, but let’s face it, he cooled off. September was his worst month and he had 1 extra base hit in the playoffs. I don’t know how Yelich would have finished but he started September damm hot. Either one would have been a good choice.

      3. Bellinger hit .263 with a .919 OPS after the break. That’s not MVP worthy. That the vote was so close with Yelich missing 32 games should tell you something. Had he not broken his knee, he’d have won his second MVP, not Bellinger.

        And he carried the team on his back for two months? The Dodger won 106 games. Hoo boy. Know where the Brewers’ second best player, by WAR, would have been on the Dodgers? 8th. Brandon Woodruff, who had a 3.3 WAR, would have tied with Joc Pederson. I think that Bellinger had just a little more help than Yelich.

        Fangraphs had Bellinger and Yelich both in a dead heat with 7.8 fWAR. Bellinger is good with the glove, but he’s not as good as BBR made him out to be. If we’re to believe his defensive metrics, he had a season in right that surpassed every single season Roberto Clemente, a 12-time Gold Glove winner, and arguably the best to ever play the position, had but two-1958 and 1968.

        Ah, no.

        Bellinger led the NL in total bases.
        Yelich led the NL in AVG, HR:AB ratio, OBP, OPS+, had the best stolen base percentage of all qualified players (30/32, or .9375%), and led baseball in SLG and OPS+.

        I don’t care how good he is with the glove. Bellinger’s defense doesn’t make up for the chasm in offensive production. Consider WPA-win probability added, in the NL:

        Yelich 7.1
        Bellinger 5.0
        Rendon 4.8

        That’s an absurd gap. Runs created? Yelich 150, Bellinger 145, even though he played 26 more games than Yelich.

        And again, Bellinger’s offensive production fell off a cliff in the second half:

        First half: .336 AVG, 30 HR, 71 RBI, .432 OBP/.692 SLG/1.124 OPS
        Second half: .263 AVG, 17 HR, 44 RBI, .371 OBP/.546 SLG/.919 OPS

        Yelich had a BETTER first half, and didn’t face plant after the break:

        First half: .329 AVG, 31 HR, 67 RBI, .433 OBP/.707 SLG/1.140 OPS
        Second half: .330 AVG, 13 HR, 30 RBI, .423 OBP/.611 SLG/1.034 OPS

        That 1.034 OPS is higher than his 1.000 OPS last year as MVP. His power dropped off a bit because of a couple back issues, and his counting stats aren’t as high because he only played in 48 games after the break before breaking his knee. But Yelich was consistent. Bellinger wasn’t.

        Go look at RISP performance and leverage. No, wait, I’ll post that, too.

        Bellinger: .298 AVG, 7 HR, 61 RBI, .444 OBP/.545 SLG/.989 OPS
        Yelich: .327 AVG, 10 HR, 52 RBI, .462 OBP/.693 SLG/1.155 OPS

        Advantage Yelich, big time. 166 points higher OPS

        High leverage?
        Bellinger: .314 AVG, .397 OBP/.637 SLG/1.034
        Yelich: .384 AVG, .460 OBP/.791 SLG/1.251

        Again, huge advantage for Yelich. +217 points on his OPS.

        Medium leverage?
        Bellinger: .268 AVG, .379 OBP/.580 SLG/.959 OPS
        Yelich: .321 AVG, .426 OBP/.655 SLG/1.081 OPS

        Yelich again, +122 OPS

        Low leverage?
        Bellinger 1.112 OPS
        Yelich 1.059 OPS

        Great, Bellinger is at his best in the least impactful situations. Go MVP! /roll eyes

        There is NO argument to be made for Bellinger being MVP over Yelich. None.

      4. Are you a dodger fan or a brewers fan that just came here to troll? Good lord

      5. Well William the voters disagreed with you. It was a close vote and Cody got the nod. Just like we feel Kemp was robbed in 2011, and then the Braun PED mess. Take it for what it is worth. Belli was the best player on the team that won the most games. And he was a huge part of the reason that the Dodgers got so far ahead. Yelich was more consistent, and he is a great player. I would not have a problem with any of the candidates who were on the list. As a Dodger fan, I love my players. But I also appreciate the performances of players on the other side. I for one, do not think pitchers should be eligible for the MVP. They have their own award. But the last Dodger before Belli to win the MVP was Kershaw. There have been some who think MVP should be changed to Player of the Year. That is more descriptive in my thinking. Belli’s second half struggles did not cost him the award. On the other hand, a 21 inning bad stretch cost Ryu the Cy Young. Trout on the other hand won the award even though he went down for surgery a few weeks before the end of the season, and his team was never in the race. Trout is also, the best player on the planet.

  2. And just to clarify, I don’t want anybody to think I am anti-Bellinger. I’d hop around on one foot the rest of my life to have him in Milwaukee. I like the guy. He’s a superstar in the making. Look at the quantum leap forward he had in this third year with the glove. The offensive potential was always there. His defensive metrics bounced like a fat kid on the moon. dWAR is a hell of an oversimplification, considering how complex defensive metrics are-range factor, arm strength deviation, etc. But from a 0.2 dWAR to 1.9/2.0 (right on the line), that’s a ridiculous jump.

    And the kid is only 24. Won’t be 25 until the All Star break.

    And yes, I am clearly a Brewers mega fan. But more than even being a Brewers fan, I am a baseball fan first. I love the history of the game. I’ve got century old plus tobacco cards of Walter Johnson, Sam Crawford, Napolean Lajoie…Topps cards from the early 50s to the mid 70s of Bob Feller, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Mike Schmidt, etc. More baseball movies on blu-ray and DVD than should be in any grown man’s film collection. I’m 48 years old, and there are Mcfarlanes of baseball greats all over my bedroom-Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle, Maris, Munson and Jeter. Ted Williams, Yaz, Cobb, Griffey Jr, Mays, Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Tony Gwynn, Schmidt, Ryan, Clemente, Seaver, Steve Carlton, and Willie Stargell, to name a few. All kinds of baseball ephemera-vintage tickets, yearbooks, game programs, pennants, books, autographed balls. I love the game. I could talk about the 1941 AL MVP vote, Teddy Ballgame hitting .406 against The Yankee Clipper hitting in 56 straight, all freaking day. You guys wanna talk the Boys of Summer? I’m a nut for the Dodgers, too. I know the team’s in LA now, and plays their games at Chavez Ravine. But the Dodgers got their start in Brooklyn, and Ebbets Field is every bit ingrained in the Dodger blue’s mystique. Those McFarlanes? I’ve been pestering Todd McFarlane for the last year to put out figures for Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Pee Wee, Gil Hodges. I basically told him, “take my check, and then just send me the figures.” I want em all, along with a Don Drysdale, a Fernando Valenzuela, too. How can all these Yankee greats be available, but there’s no Koufax?? I’ve watched the Brooklyn Dodgers documentary that HBO did, “The Ghosts of Flatbush”, at least 50 times. The first vintage (post WW II to 1979, when Topps was joined by Fleer again, and Donruss, then Upper Deck) baseball card I ever bought was a 1953 Bowman “Oisk”, Carl Erskine. Seeing replays of Bobby Thompson’s home run to win the pennant in ’51 makes me simultaneously ill to my stomach, and euphoric watching such an iconic moment. I’ve got Dodgers cards going back to 1909. Here’s my favorite, a T206 Nap Rucker. I’m building the T206 set. The Dodgers in Brooklyn were special. The fans would walk towards Ebbets Field, hop on the trolley, and there would be Gil Hodges, or Johnny Podres. “Dem Bums” finally made good, and then they got whisked away to California. Even though the Brewers were an AL team when I was growing up, I loved watching the Dodgers games on tv whenever I could catch them. Any time I could listen to Vin Scully talk baseball, about his recollections of Jackie Robinson, and that ’55 Team with Don Newcombe, Campanella et all (give me a McFarlane of him, too!), I just go blank listening, soaking it all in. The Brewers will always be my team, but I grew up going to games at Milwaukee County Stadium with my folks. “That’s where Hank Aaron stood. Eddie Mathews held down third right there, fifteen feet away. Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette threw on that mound.” I looked where Clemente played when the Bucs came to town. Ernie Banks played there. Stan Musial. Mays, Mccovey and Cepeda. Juan Marichal. “See that box? That’s where your butt was laying if you crowded the plate when the Cardinals were in town, and Bob Gibson was on the mound.”

    I love baseball, and its history is sacred to me.

    And when I do analysis on a player, or a vote, I leave my bias at the door. I’ll passionately defend my guy, but I won’t invent numbers, or skew data in their favor. I’ll never say “my guy deserved the award” if he didn’t. I know a lot of you guys think that Matt Kemp got robbed in 2011. I understand your position. I still feel that Braun deserved the award, but it was so close, and I’d have been perfectly cool with a tie, a’la 1979 when Stargell and Keith Hernandez each got a trophy. Kemp’s numbers were slightly better, but Braun’s Brewers were in the thick of a pennant race. The Dodgers in 2011 were pretty much out of it by June. Braun’s performance in high leverage situations, situations Kemp wasn’t put into, gave him the edge for me. But what he did in taking those steroids (not PED; what he took was used to accelerate the healing of a deep thigh bruise that almost put him on the DL), that was stupid as hell. And the way he handled himself in that speech at Miller Park after he won his appeal (no doubt on the advice of his legal counsel)-it took me a good couple of years to forgive him for it. I don’t think that anything he said about the collection process was inherently wrong, but it came across as a total dick move. Braun needed to come across as humble, and humbled. He made a stupid mistake, and deserved every game of suspension that was ultimately levied by MLB. I’m still ticked that somebody leaked the result-that should have never happened. But more than that, he shouldn’t have used a banned substance. The Brewer fan in me tried to rationalize it somewhat-the Brewers are so rarely in the playoffs, and Braun wanted to be healthy for that push to the World Series. I can understand it, but cannot condone it. I abhor cheating, and Braun did just that.

    Anyhow, while I’m going to be miffed about this award vote for a while (especially seeing how close the vote really was), Bellinger, even with a somewhat down second half, was still, in the aggregate, brilliant. You guys have a real bright future with him as one of your core building blocks.

    Good luck in 2020. I hope next time, Milwaukee beats you guys!

    1. I find it very hard to argue with your statements William and enjoyed (will maybe that’s the wrong word) your posts. You seem to have a real knowledge of the game and an understanding of your biases, not letting them ultimately have an influence on your conclusions.
      It’s always interesting, although not necessarily enjoyable, to see someone come at a discussion from a different point of view and with a different rooting interest.
      There is one major reason why Bellinger ultimately deserved the award over Yelich. He wears Dodger Blue. 🙂

  3. I’d hop around on on one foot for some of those bsseball cards you referenced Bill Greg. But not for very long. Bad knees.

    The Brewers player got a clearly undeserved MVP and the Dodgers player won a close one. I’d say you got nothing to bitch about. But, good stats. You did your homework, I’ll give you that. Yelich was indeed worthy.

  4. I for one, think the MVP should come from a top team, so considering that I think Cody won because he was the best player on a team that won 106 games. I also would not have been surprised to see Rendon win due to leading the Nats from a 19-31 record to a wild card. At the same time a Yelich had the overall best numbers, but played fewer gam3s due to injury. It’s interesting to note that when he went down in September, the Brewers got hot. Did this contribute to some votes shifting? Maybe. As I’ve stated in other posts, I think their can be different players considered as Most Valuable versus Most Outstanding.
    A different story in the AL. While many would agree, that Trout ‘‘tis the best player or was Most Outstanding, even though he, like Yelich missed about the same number of games; I do not understand how he can win the Most Valuable Player Award, when the Angels only won 72:games! I think Bergman should have won as top player on a team that won 107:games! Or someone from the Yankees (Lemahieu?) or the Twins two teams that also won over 100 games. Just my opinion.
    The Cy Young Award is really a most outstanding pitcher award. MVP has a different connotation and pitchers can and have won MVP. So, I agree that Bellinger deserved MVP, while Yelich probably would be considered to have the most outstanding offensive season.

    1. MVP might should be the guy who is most valuable to the game. Would anybody be interested in the Angels if Trout wasn’t on that team? Nope. He puts butts in seats everywhere he goes. Would the Dodgers draw without Bellinger? Of course they would.

      Most Valuable does sound subjective. Most valuable based on what exactly? That’s why I don’t much give a rat’s ass about these individual awards. This is a team game and I want my team to win. No All Stars (go home, get some rest) no MVP, no Cy Young, no SS, no Gold Glove, trade all that “Look At Me” crap for a team trophy. A Championship team trophy.

      1. Then you are implying that MVP is or should be a popularity contest. So maybe it’s awarded to the player with the most Jersey sales!

        I do agree a team WIN of a Championship is more important than individual awards, but I think individual awards also have their place and are important for recognition of player performance.

      2. Then don’t call it Most Valuable.



        having considerable monetary worth; costing or bringing a high price:
        a valuable painting; a valuable crop.

        having qualities worthy of respect, admiration, or esteem:
        a valuable friend.

        of considerable use, service, or importance:
        valuable information.

      3. Is there an actual published definition of the criteria for the award? If not, there should be.
        Half the voters seem to feel they are voting for “valuable” as per the definitions that Scoop laid out while the other half are voting for the guy they consider the best player.
        When they give out the award every year, the should publish the definition right under the title, and if it’s supposed to be the “best” player, the name should be change to “Most Outstanding”.

      4. I agree with that Jefe. Most Valuable can mean so many things, but with Trout winning it I think it’s obviously not about value to team as the Angels could easily finish out of it if he wasn’t there. This is an award for the Most Outstanding Player. The MOP. Not the same ring tone is it.

      5. They could save a lot of money on the trophy. Instead of what they hand out now they could make the MOP trophy a Swiffer.

  5. Personally, I would trade Cody’s MVP trophy for a WS win. I am pretty sure the team feels the same way. Duke Snider hit 40 plus homers 5 years in a row, and never won an MVP. Those years, the trophy went to Campy 3 times. Duke was clearly the best player on a team that was winning, but the voters thought Roy was more valuable. Awards are nice, but losing or missing the big dance is just unacceptable when your team is as dominant as the Dodgers were this year.

  6. Loved the humility the kid showed in the interview following the announcement. Cherington hired to be the Buc’s GM. Choo is campaigning for his Rangers to sign Ryu. They have also expressed interest in a few other free agents. I am surprised there was not more chatter about the Dodgers losing out on signing Will Smith.

  7. So Maeda’s agent has put out the word that his client is not happy with how the Dodgers have been treating him. In further reading the quotes, it seems he is more concerned with how it affects his incentives, rather than the fact that he has been moved to the bullpen later in the season and for the playoffs. We’ve discussed this here before. If they plan to keep him, they need to re-work his contract. On the other hand, that conversation could have been had one on one, agent to Friedman, so putting it out there may be an attempt by the agent to stir up trade interest. Maeda certainly has trade value, although I’m not sure exactly how much. I assume AF will be exploring that possibility between now and the end of the Winter Meetings.

    1. Just saw a tweet from Andy McCullough that says the Dodgers tried to re-negotiate last winter but couldn’t reach a deal with Maeda. McCullough also says that Maeda does not want to pitch in relief. Bye-bye Kenta.
      Anyone think the Indians would do a deal for Kluber, one for one? Kluber has two years remaining, both team options for about 17-18 million per year. Maeda has lots of years left and has been earning about 5-7 million per year after incentives. So who says no to that deal?

  8. Maeda is a replaceable piece. If he is not happy, send his heinie somewhere else. I have no use for players who are not happy getting all that extra playoff money and being on a competitive team for their entire career as Maeda has.

    1. Maeda has been an extremely valuable player for the Dodgers. I don’t blame him for voicing this. The reason he was put in the pen is because Friedman didn’t get what this team needed out there. They pushed him there knowing full well it was going to cost him money. Now he wants out. The Dodgers should accommodate him.

      1. Yes he has. But he is still replaceable, and on this team with some extremely talented young arms. I have for the most part always liked Kenta. He has gone out and done his job. And he is very affordable. But I still believe if they do not want to be a Dodger get rid of him.

      2. Get rid of sounds a bit harsh, but your point is valid. He deserves assurance they won’t put him in the pen again. If he can’t get that assurance, they should seek a trade. And he’s got considerable value.

  9. I’m kind of on Kentas’ side on this, he negotiated a very team friendly contract that is incentive laden, now they are not giving him the chance to earn his incentives. The team has done this to him for two years now, and he has kept quiet, if he doesn’t stand up for himself the team will just keep doing the same thing. I have no problem with Kenta saying something. The dodgers should honor the spirit of the contract ( which is for him to start ) or move him like he asked.

    The dodgers have already cost him the chance of probably earning a few extra million dollars, how much do they expect him to take
    I think every team would like to have their players on an incentive based contract like kenta’s, so I think he has a lot of value in a trade, just based on his contract.

  10. You know me Scoop, I am a grouchy old Bear. Look, I get it. Maeda has every reason to be POed. They have cost him money over the last couple of years, I would probably be pretty ticked myself. That contract was structured that way because of the injury concerns the team had because of his high inning count in Japan and there were questions about his shoulder and elbow. He has indeed lived up to his contract and then some. My point is I do not want unhappy players on the roster. As good as the team morale has been the last few years, something like this can sour it real fast.

  11. From what I’ve read, and I can’t be sure it’s all accurate, Friedman tried to re-negotiate Maeda’s contract but they couldn’t come to an agreement because he basically wants to be a starter on a full time basis. Friedman is including him in his list of starters for 2020, but that may just be until he signs someone else.
    Maeda seems like a really good guy but he shouldn’t be here if he isn’t happy.

    1. It’s my opinion that he should be a starter if he that’s what he wants to be. Apparently he assumed that would be his role and was confident enough in his ability that he signed an incentive laden contract. When that contract was signed I remember thinking the players union would step in and say “that is not how we do things here”. They did not. And now, because it’s not spelled out in the contract, the Dodgers can do what they want with him. And it appears they aren’t willing to state they won’t stick him in the pen when he’s needed there. I guess I don’t blame either side on this. Kenta wants to achieve his incentives and Friedman doesn’t want to be forced to get get what this team has needed for some time now – bullpen help. He could have done that at the deadline. He must have felt he didn’t need to. He had Kelly for 2 innings, Maeda and Kershaw.

      1. I agree that one can see both sides here. We’re getting all of our info second hand so don’t even know if it’s entirely accurate. We don’t know what was said when the Dodgers originally negotiated with Maeda when he first came over. We don’t know what AF offered in the way of restructuring his contract and which Maeda declined (assuming that is even what happened). We don’t know if Maeda simply doesn’t want to pitch in relief………………ever, or if he doesn’t want to because he feels it affects his income. My only conclusion is that I don’t want an unhappy guy in the clubhouse so if both sides can’t be satisfied within the next few weeks, I would trade him. It’s not as though he’s our number 1 or 2 starter. Depending on whom we might sign or trade for and how Urias, May and Gonsolin progress, he might be our number 6 or 7 starter. I say all of this knowing that most pitchers don’t like going back and forth between rotation and bp.

  12. There is a little write up about Maeda and his stance in MLBTR. Apparently, AF has challenged Maeda to up his game. Stats say Kenta is better out of the pen than starting. They have always told him that he needs to come out and challenge hitters when he is starting. I have noticed a lot of times that instead of pounding the zone, he nibbles at the corners, which is fine if your name is Greg Maddux. If his control is off just a little bit, he gets hammered, or gives up a lot of walks. MLB is changing the IL rules for pitchers. Position players will still have a 10 day IL, but MLB is going back to 15 days for hurlers. AF will not be a happy camper over that.

    1. Maddux was throwing at a plate that was often 21” wide. Maeda’s plate is sometimes only 15” wide. But the point is valid. His first inning ERA was 4.95. But frankly it doesn’t look like he was much better late, innings 7-9 his ERA was 4.71. In the 9th inning, 6 games, it was 18.00. Yoiks. He was pretty good in the 8th – 33 PA’s, 0 earned runs allowed. As a reliever his sOPS+ 107. As a starter, his sOPS was 92. BAA reliever .269, as a starter .235. Again, I think the point is – what does he want? If he doesn’t want to come out of the pen, why would we continue to ask him to do it?

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