It’s not every day that you see a 21-year-old kid thrive against big league pitching, but the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger has done just that. Looking back at past Rookies of the Year for the Dodgers, it’s easy to make a case for his ROY candidacy.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have had 16 players take home rookie of the year honors since the award’s inaugural season in 1947. That list includes legends such as Jackie Robinson, Don Newcombe, Mike Piazza and Fernando Valenzuela just to name a few. Looking back at the years in which those players one, you start to see some incredible parallels with Bellinger’s rookie season. Obviously, you can’t really compare a position player to a pitcher, so we’ll just look at offensive stats for now.
Bellinger has already blasted 21 home runs in his first 51 games while knocking in 47 runs batted in. His batting average is about league average (.269), but it’s that pop that has really got fans turning their heads. Out of all Dodgers’ rookie of the year winners, only four players had more home runs….and Bellinger still has the second half of the season to play. In 2016, Corey Seager hit .308 with 26 home runs on his way to taking home the award. So let’s just break down Bellinger’s potential to see where he could fall in comparison to some of the greats.
At his current pace, Bellinger would put almost all other Dodger rookie to shame. If he continued at the rate, he was at while playing the number of games Pizza (149) or Seager did (157), the numbers would be astounding. Bellinger is averaging .85 RBI and .38 home runs per game when you break it down. By comparison, Piazza average .75 and .23, respectively. Seager only managed to average .45 and .17 in his 2016 season.
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So theoretically, if Bellinger were somehow able to keep up the ridiculous pace he has set, that would put him on track for 67 home runs and 149 RBI over a 162 game span. Can you even begin to imagine that? The most home runs ever hit by a rookie was 49 in Mark McGwire’s 1987 rookie season. The most runs batted in was Ted Williams at 145, so that record is a stretch but still the projections are up to par.
But just stop to think about it for a second. What if Bellinger started the season with the team? What if he’s able to play 90+ more games this year? There is so much Bellinger could accomplish this year. And it’s not crazy to think he could win Rookie of the Year. Some other National League candidates include Dansby Swanson, Jesus Aguilar, and Hunter Renfroe. None of those other guys are really on winning teams except for Aguilar, so that also gives Bellinger a slight advantage.
The Dodgers sit at 45-26 in second place, and it looks as though Cody Bellinger is here for the long haul. With Andrew Toles out for the season and Adrian Gonzalez on and off of the disabled list, Bellinger has been able to step into a huge role.
The discussion will continue with comparisons to AL home run leader Aaron Judge. Vote on Twitter and check back with us tomorrow as we break down their two fantastic rookie seasons.
Predicted final season stat line for Bellinger:
.250 Batting Average
40 home runs
115 Runs Batted In
Rookie of the Year 2017