Dodgers: A Tale of Two Second Halves for MLB’s Two Best Rookies

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 09: Cody Bellinger
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 09: Cody Bellinger /

Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Aaron Judge of the Yankees appear to be the clear choice for the Rookie of the Year award. After hot starts for both, one player is having a much better second half.

If you watch any sort of baseball, you likely know the names, Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge. While there may be a slight difference in height and weight (Bellinger is three inches shorter and about 60 lbs lighter), they have essentially had identical seasons. Both are in their rookie seasons, both have been crushing baseballs left, and right, both play for iconic franchises and both are chasing all sorts of team records. But there have been two fundamental differences between the sluggers.

The first is that the Dodgers’ Bellinger did not come along until after the first month of the season, so he’s only played in 97 games compared to Judge’s 113. The second difference is the seasons they are having AFTER the all star break.

Judge started the season with a bang and concluded that tremendous start with a Home Run Derby trophy. He took the league by storm in the first half, hitting .329 while crushing 30 home runs to put him on pace for a Roger Maris-esque season.

He was playing so well that they even set up an area in Yankee Stadium designated the Judge’s Chambers. Bellinger wasn’t too bad himself, as he hit 25 of his own while playing about a month less than Judge.

Since then though, Judge has come back to earth. The league has adjusted to him, and it’s starting to show. In 130 plate appearances (103 at-bats) following the All-Star break, he is hitting just .175 with six home runs, 49 strikeouts and a .713 OPS. He went from a homer every ten at-bats earlier in the season, to around one every 17 at-bats (which is still really good). Simply put, he just has not produced in the second half, and it has worn on the Yankees’ lineup.

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Luckily for Judge, the Bronx Bombers were 45-41 leading up to the break, good for a .523 winning percentage. Since then, they have gone 17-14, good for a .548 win percentage. So although he has gotten worse, the team as a whole has gotten a little better.

Bellinger has been an entirely different story. But to be fair, the Dodgers are just unreal this season. At the break, the team sat at 61-29, with an absurd win percentage of .677 for the first half. The second half has been nothing short of magnificent, going 22-5 for a .815 win percentage.

And Bellinger has been a huge part of that, hitting .308 in the second half. Belli is also hitting home runs essentially at the same rate as his magnificent first half, putting up nine in 104 appearances.

If he stays at that pace for the rest of the season, it’s likely Bellinger will end up with about 45 home runs for the year, which would fall three short of Mark McGwire’s 1987 rookie season record.

Perhaps most interesting is that no matter what sort of season these two have, they are almost guaranteed to win the Rookie of the Year awards in their respective leagues. And at the pace both teams are playing, it’s not unlikely that the two teams could end up meeting in the World Series in October.

If that were to happen, it would be just the fourth time since 1949 that two Rookie of the Year winners met in the World Series. The last time it happened was in 2010 when Neftali Feliz of the Rangers met with Buster Posey of the Giants.

Next: Bellinger's Final HR Total Prediction

Regardless of where their teams end up, Judge and Bellinger are having two of the greatest rookie seasons in a long time.