Dodgers: Cody Bellinger’s Chances of Hitting 50 Homers

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Cody Bellinger
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Cody Bellinger /

Could Cody Bellinger become the first Dodger player to hit 50 home runs in a season?

Cody Bellinger will be going into the 2018 season with a ton of expectations after having one of the greatest rookie seasons in baseball history.   Bellinger set a National League rookie record by hitting 39 home runs. This record-breaking season led to him unanimously winning the Rookie of the Year award. His massive power potential raises possibility for a feat that has never been done in Dodgers history.

Could Cody Bellinger become the first Dodger player to ever hit 50 home runs in a season in 2018? Bellinger came into the 2017 season as one of baseball’s top prospect but was still thought to be a year away from making a real impact at the major league level. However, injuries to star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, as well as other Dodger players led to his call-up in late April.

Even at the time Cody got called up, it was thought that he would just have a cup of coffee with the big club and be sent back down once players got healthy.  Cody immediately showed he belonged by producing right away. He hit 24 home runs in his first 62 games and set the baseball world on fire. Halfway through the season he even started to garner MVP consideration and ended up finishing ninth in voting by seasons end.

When you look at Cody’s ability, it is very easy to see how he has a great chance to be the first Dodger to break the 50 home run milestone. In all of the great history of the Dodgers, the franchise has really only had two players get really close to the 50 home run mark. Shawn green owns the single-season home run record with 49 in 2001 and Adrian Beltre hit 48 in 2004. Hall of fame Dodger legend Duke Snider had five 40 plus home run seasons but his high of 43 is tied for third with Gary Sheffield.

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Fifty home runs are still such a rare feat, even in today’s game where the baseballs may be juiced. Only 29 different players have reached the illustrious mark. The great Hank Aaron who hit 755 career home runs never had a 50 home run season. Bellinger certainly has the potential to get there not just once but multiple times. A good comparison for Bellinger is actually Shawn Green.  Green like Bellinger was a tall lanky lefty with a smooth swing. Green was a pull hitter with who generated his power with his quick hands through the strike zone just like Cody.

Bellinger hit his 39 home runs in only 132 games. Bellinger averaged 12.3 at-bats per home run. In comparison, Green averaged 12.6 AB/HR in his record-setting 2001 season. If you give Bellinger a full season he has a really good chance of getting to fifty. The thing that might make it more difficult for him next season is that he will no longer take anyone by surprise anymore. Opposing pitchers now have a lot more game tape on him and will try to exploit his weaknesses next season.

It will be up to Cody to make the adjustments and avoid a sophomore slump. Another thing that is helping him is that we are now going back to an offensive era in baseball. This past season saw more home runs hit than any season in MLB history. I am not insinuating that any of these two players were using PED’s but Green’s and Beltre’s season also took place during a very high home run time in baseball, the steroid era.

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In today’s game, there are rumors that the balls are somehow juiced. This theory is now starting to grow so popular that even pitchers are starting to believe it. Whether it is true or not home runs are up and this is most certainly helping players like Bellinger.  We are also in an analytic era where trying to hit the ball in the air is considered more productive than hitting it on the ground. This is leading to more uppercut swings and players swinging for the fences. My guess is that Bellinger will be the first Dodger to get to 50. With all his power and potential I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be able to accomplish this next year.