Rookies aren’t expected to make any type of big splash when called up from the minors to the big club. Sure there is tons of hype for the “top-rated” prospects. But so many of them scuffle as they get used to the increase in the level of competition. Some will have a few hot weeks here and there throughout the season. But only a few have hot seasons in their debut that make history. The Dodgers have one of them.
The last splash. The most recent rookie that set the world on fire that comes to mind was Angels’ center fielder Mike Trout in 2012. He ended up finishing 2nd in the AL MVP voting, which I think was highway robbery even though he lost to a triple crown winner.
If Trout would have played a full season (he was called up on April 28th, 20 games into the season) he would’ve had a better shot at winning MVP. More opportunities to increase the counting stats and elevate his average.
His team didn’t even make the playoffs that season, which speaks a lot to how dominating his play was (and has been) with the 2nd place finish.
Cody’s splash: April 25, 2017. The day the Dodgers’ season was turned around for good. That day they decided to call up their top prospect, 21-year-old first baseman, Cody Bellinger.
He was summoned from the minors to help a stumbling team who had already lost more than they won 20 games into the season (9-11). The team was looking for any offense they could get.
Skipper Dave Roberts would initially play the versatile and athletic kid in the outfield because veteran Adrian Gonzalez was holding down the fort at first base still.
He forced their hand. Bellinger was not brought up to the big club to be the permanent solution to the early season woes. With a deep roster, there wasn’t any room for him. He was not even supposed to stay up for that long.
But, the way he raked, his splash on the scene lifted the team to historic heights. So much so, that Doc and the front office had no choice but to leave the kid up in the majors and in the lineup every day.
Such a rarity. The baseball writers who vote on the season awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, Hall Of Fame inductions, etc., tend to be pretty old school for the most part.
Young guys haven’t always gotten as much recognition from the writers; they have to pay their dues, take a back seat to the veterans. But, the last couple of years, it seems as if they have been coming around on that notion.
Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager finished 3rd in NL MVP voting last season in his rookie campaign.
More from LA Dodgers News
- Dodgers’ 2023 lineup without Trea Turner isn’t as impressive as it should be
- Recapping who Dodgers gained and lost in Rule 5 Draft
- Dodgers ironically sign former all-star to potentially replace Cody Bellinger
- Padres-Xander Bogaerts contract feels like Manny Machado desperation
- Aaron Judge leaving Giants directionless is another massive win for Dodgers
No mention of stats yet? A few months ago, Dodgers Way co-contributor, Saeed Villanueva chronicled the early MVP race and highlighted Bellinger’s accomplishments at that point. His numbers weren’t the absolute best then, and they still aren’t now.
Cody is currently second in the NL in homers with 39. His 96 RBIs are good for 13th in the NL. His 4.1 WAR puts him only 18th in the NL. But the MVP isn’t always the player with the best numbers.
The best player on the best team. I don’t need to dig up some random stat that the kid clearly leads in, one probably doesn’t exist. Since Cody’s big splash on April 25th, the Dodgers own the best record in the majors at (92-46), 10.5 games better than the next best team in the National League, Washington Nationals at (82-57).
And that’s even after the Dodgers’ ridiculous losing streak they recently had. Pretty impressive, and Bellinger is the main reason behind that success.
Sure the Dodgers are loaded. Talent and production from top to bottom in the lineup, and great pitching on the bump. But, Cody has been penciled in at the cleanup spot for a long time now.
He is the cornerstone of the lineup that Doc has had the task of building around. There is no telling how the Dodgers would have fared if Bellinger was still in Triple-A OKC right now, or if he would’ve come up later in the season.
It is simple. What we do know, is that the Dodgers are the best team in the majors right now. And they have been since the rookie came up at the end of April. Putting all the stats aside, the 2017 NL MVP should be awarded to the best player on the best team, and that is Dodgers rookie first baseman, Cody Bellinger.