Just when you thought Cody Bellinger’s 2019 couldn’t have gotten any better, another historic stat pops up. According to MLB Stats, Bellinger’s MVP campaign put him in a special category with only Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe as the only Dodgers to win both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) November 15, 2019
Robinson and Newcombe both won their awards while the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, which means Bellinger is the first Dodger to accomplish the feat in the City of Angels.
But how do Bellinger’s numbers stack up with the two Dodger legends? Let’s start with rookie seasons.
In Bellinger’s rookie year of 2017, he hit .267 and scored 87 runs with 39 home runs and 97 RBI. His 39 dingers set a National League record that has since been broken by Pete Alonso, although it remains the Dodgers franchise record for most home runs by a rookie. Moreover, he was also selected to the All-Star team.
Robinson’s rookie season will live on in baseball history as he became the first black player in the MLB. He hit for .297 in 1947, scoring 125 runs with 12 home runs and 48 RBI. Robinson also led the league in stolen bases with 29, times caught stealing with 11, and sacrifice hits with 28. He finished top five in the MVP voting en route to helping the Dodgers win the National League pennant.
Newcombe debuted on the mound for the Dodgers in 1949. He had a 17-8 record in 31 starts, struck out 149 batters compared to 73 walks. Newcombe led the league in shutouts with five and in strikeouts per nine innings pitched with 5.5. He was also named an All-Star and played a major role in the Dodgers winning their second pennant in three years.
In Bellinger’s MVP 2019 season, he hit a career-high .305 on 47 home runs, third-most by a Dodger in a single season. He also batted in 115 runs and was intentionally walked 21 times, more than any other batter in baseball. Bellinger’s stellar offensive season earned him a Silver Slugger award and he also won a Gold Glove his just as impressive defensive performance.
Robinson’s MVP campaign came in 1949, the same year Newcombe won Rookie of the Year and also the first year he was selected to play in the All-Star Game. Robinson hit for .342, which led the league in batting average, 16 home runs, and 124 RBI. In addition to leading the league in batting average, he also led in stolen bases with a career-high 37 and in sacrifice hits with 17. He was also caught stealing 16 times, once again leading the league.
Newcombe had his MVP campaign in 1956, one year after the Dodgers finally won their first World Series. Newcombe posted a league-best 27-7 record with a 3.06 ERA in 36 starts and struck out 139 batters he faced. Although WHIP was not introduced as a stat until 1979, he led the league in that category with .989. Newcombe became the first recipient of the Cy Young Award in this season, which also meant that he was the first player to win a Cy Young and MVP in the same season. Newcombe helped get the Dodgers back to the World Series, but they would not go back-to-back, falling to the Yankees in seven games.
How do you think Bellinger’s season stacks up with the greats?