Dodgers: Making the case for Cody Bellinger as Rookie of the Year

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May 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (35) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
May 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (35) reacts after striking out against the Chicago Cubs during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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Last season, the Dodgers were blessed with Corey Seager and his incredible talents as he led the team to an NLCS bid and unanimously took home the NL Rookie of the Year award.

This year, it is a new Dodger that is captivating the majors as a first-year player. His name is Cody Bellinger. Will Cody be able to keep up his hot start to the season? Or will the league catch up to him?

When the season began, there was no room for Cody Bellinger on the major league roster. But, after a plethora of injuries to the roster, the 21-year-old phenom was brought up and proceeded to set the league on fire. Two weeks ago, I compared his hot start to Yasiel Puig’s back in 2013. Since then Cody has regressed a little bit but has still been a top hitter for the team.

If Cody Bellinger is going to take home Rookie of the Year honors he’s going to have to beat out some good competition. The early favorite for the award was Dansby Swanson, but he’s started the season with a .189 average. Josh Bell has made a good case for himself and is probably the biggest competition, but he has cooled off from a strong April.

Then there’s Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela, who have both been great for the Rockies to start the season, I just can’t really trust anyone who pitches a majority of their games at Coors Field. It’s still very early in the season but Cody looks to be the frontrunner for the award and with every game he plays, he widens the gap a little more.

So, what’s the case for Cody to win the Rookie of the Year award?

Well for one, he came into the league and hit everything in sight. He currently owns a .951 OPS and .271 batting average, which is down from his early start, but his first two weeks were unsustainable. Cody played in his 32nd MLB game on Monday against the Cardinals and hit his 11th homerun of the season, becoming the fastest Dodgers player to reach this mark.

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Besides Cody’s individual accomplishments, he has made the team better overall. Since his call up on April 25th, the Dodgers own the best record in baseball at 24-10. Now, you may be able to attribute this hot streak to the major’s best bullpen or the team slowly getting healthier. You wouldn’t be wrong if you made that argument, but there’s no doubt that Cody filled a big hole when Andrew Toles went down with his torn ACL. He also gave the Dodgers the flexibility to finally put Adrian Gonzalez on the disabled list, which looks to have helped Gonzo tremendously. No matter what argument you make, Cody Bellinger’s name has to get some of the credit.

We have all gotten used to Cody cranking out home runs, and a player shouldn’t win an award purely on one area of his game. Well if that’s the case, Cody has shown his worth on the field as well as at the plate.

If you were able to tune into the early morning Monday game against the Cardinals, you got a little taste of Cody Bellinger’s fielding abilities. In the 7th inning, Cardinal second baseman Paul Dejong looked to score on a grounder to left field. Cody had other ideas. Cody came up firing on the play and gunned down Dejong by a mile.

Another example of Cody’s stellar defense was his play against the Pirates on May 10th. The spectacular play was backed up by Statcast’s fielding metrics; as it gave Cody a 6 percent chance to make the catch. Cody’s glove is best suited for first base, but he can more than hold his own in left field.

The last little taste we got of Cody’s abilities was his insane speed. In a game against the Giants on May 2nd, Cody hit a triple and made it to third in 11.06 seconds. This is good enough for the 6th fastest time in the majors at that moment according to Statcast, and he trails names such as Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon. For a natural first baseman, that’s pretty damn good.

Next: Starting Pitching May Grades

Overall, Cody Bellinger is an essential part of this Dodgers team already despite playing in a limited number of games. He is starting to come back down to earth after a hot start to the season, but there was nowhere to go but down. If he can remain at the level of production he’s at now; he will end up with 20+ home runs and 80+ RBI. Couple that with his defensive skill set and we may have back-to-back Rookie of the Years in Los Angeles, and by the looks of the farm system, the Dodgers could be on the verge of another ROY streak like they had back in 1992 through 1996.

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