Cody Bellinger’s offense has been well documented through the Dodgers’ first 54 games of the season. He’s been absolutely dominant in that time, leading nearly every offensive category in the National League. A closer look though, and one will see that he’s grown to become the best right fielder in baseball as well.
Cody Bellinger is absolutely raking this year. He's also doing things like this ?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) May 28, 2019
Going into Monday nights game, Cody Bellinger was leading all major league right fielders in outfield assists with 5. By the end of the game, he was leading all outfielders in baseball with 7. What’s more, is the fashion in which they came. In the 1st inning, he made a ridiculous throw home to save a run. In the 8th inning, he made a momentum-killing throw to third to double-up a runner tagging from second. Not only did it end a threatening inning, but he got the out before the runner on third could score on their tag-up. He was rightfully rewarded by fans in the bottom half of the inning with “MVP” chants echoing through the stadium.
Defensively, there was plenty of concern over the Dodgers losing Yasiel Puig to trade in the offseason. Puig’s cannon arm has long prevented runners from attempting to take that extra base on outfield hits or even sac-flies. With Cody Bellinger taking that role, it was thought there might be more runs allowed in such situations. In truth, nothing could be further from reality. While Bellinger and Puig currently have the same .988 fielding percentage, that’s where the similarity ends.
Bellinger has 7 outfield assists, 14 defensive runs Saved above average, a 6 outfield arm runs above average, and overall 1.3 dWAR to Puig’s 3 outfield assists, 3 Rdrs, 2 Rof, and 0.1 dWAR. While Puig may not be the best right fielder in the game, Cody’s dWAR is 2nd best in ALL of baseball for ALL positions.
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) May 28, 2019
Beyond the numbers, paired with better judgment, right field has been significantly upgraded. Although Puig’s arm was strong, it has been subject to improper use. He frequently missed cut-off men or threw to save a run, only to allow runners to advance. Saving the run is great, but if the judgment is poor, it’ll cost the team a run and have another runner move into scoring position. Bellinger’s 8th inning throw to third last night is a perfect example of that better judgment.
When looking at Cody Bellinger, most see the flashy offensive numbers, the home runs, RBI, and impressive slash lines; and they should. It can’t be ignored though, that his defensive numbers are equally impressive. Cody Bellinger is a genuine 5-tool baseball player.
Cody Bellinger now has 19 home runs and 7 outfield assists this season.
The last player to reach those totals through 52 games in a season: Babe Ruth in 1932. https://t.co/07781TUd3g
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) May 28, 2019
It is becoming more and more evident that he not only worked on his plate approach in the offseason, but has worked on his approach to the game as a whole. He has an elevated understanding of what it takes to help the Dodgers win and to impact the game from both sides of the field. Through 54 games, exactly 1/3 of the season, Cody Bellinger is just as the fans were calling it: The MVP.