Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger won the annual Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday. Bellinger finished with a total of 97 votes, while the second place candidate only received two votes, making this an astounding clear-cut choice in the decision making process for all 102 voters.
The news comes a day before the Dodgers take on the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the 2017 World Series, and it’s simply icing on the cake in regards to the way Bellinger has handled his success throughout his rookie campaign.
Bellinger began the regular season playing in Triple-A for the Oklahoma City Dodgers, and wasn’t a legitimate option for Dave Roberts during Spring Training. However, he was eventually called up on April 25, after Los Angeles began the season with a 9-11 record, and injuries created holes in the team’s depth chart.
The rookie sensation never looked back after that day, and consistently produced insane numbers at a high-rate for the Boys in Blue. The Dodgers went 95-47 in the regular season after the addition of Bellinger in the starting lineup.
He finished the year with the 39 home runs (Tied for 6th overall), and led the team in many categories (97 RBIs, 87 runs, .581 slugging percentage). Bellinger is a phenomenal athlete, and he was the focal point of highlights while playing defense. His feel for the game made for astounding plays at first base and in center field. The holistic player that Bellinger is makes him one of the best up-and-coming superstars in baseball. Bellinger is a huge reason why the Dodgers have made it to their first World Series appearance since 1988.
The moment is never too big, and the external pressures that come from being a glorified athlete in Hollywood aren’t deterring him from taking a step back in progression. This is the biggest stage in baseball, but he’s already proved why that doesn’t effect him.
After a slow start in the NLDS, he regrouped mentally, and has started to take his development to another level after leading his team to a NLCS clinching victory in Game 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit a home run that bolted the electrifying offense, and made a spectacular play while falling into the Dodger dugout that surged the Dodgers momentum that night. His postseason statistics are good (.278 average, 10 hits, two home runs), but those numbers don’t necessarily reflect the impact that he’s had towards this postseason run.
This is merely another stepping stone, and Dodger fans should expect to see Bellinger steadily make strides towards becoming one of baseball’s elite players for the rest of his career in a Dodgers uniform.
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