In 2015, the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper was all the buzz around baseball as he pursued and won the National League MVP award. He had talent, charisma, star appeal. He had already won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year award and earned two All-Star appearances in 2012 and 2013. In 2015, it was Harper’s sheer talent that that captivated baseball fans. In 2019 however, its Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger generating the buzz.
While Cody may not be as flashy as Mr. “Make Baseball Fun Again”, fans have become enamored with what he’s done so far. Frankly, the way puts his 5 tools on display every game, he sure is fun to watch!
Bryce Harper wearing a "Make Baseball Fun Again" hat. Love it, so much. pic.twitter.com/zESqRjO0qN
— Mr. Schäfer (@misterschafer) April 5, 2016
Bryce Harper and Cody Bellinger had different escalations to the Major League level. Harper was the number one overall pick of the 2010 Major League Draft. Bellinger was the 124th pick in the 2013 Draft. Harper made his MLB debut in 2 short years. Bellinger debuted in 4. Harper’s abilities seemed to come natural, Cody’s had to develop his. Not without some similarity though, the two were both Rookie of the Year winners and selected to participate in the All-Star game in their first big league season.
With the Phillies coming into town to face the Dodgers for the first time since Harper signed the 13 year $330M contract with them, comparisons will be rampant. It’ll be inevitable that comparisons between Harper’s MVP 2015 season and Bellinger’s start to 2019 will be rampant. Dodgers Nation looks ahead.
’15 Offense vs ’19 Offense: Through 52 games
Offensively Bryce Harper slashed .333/.471/.718 with 18 home runs and 44 RBI in his first 52 games in 2015. Cody Bellinger has slashed .380/.464/.760 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI through his first 52. With the exception of On Base Percentage from the additional walks Harper attained, 45 to Bellinger’s 33, Bellinger surpasses all of Harper’s offensive numbers so far. Bellinger posted 50 runs, 74 hits, just 31 strikeouts, and 1.224 OPS to Harper’s 43 runs, 58 hits, 48 strikeouts, and 1.189 OPS.
Both are outstanding statistically, but comparing the first 52 games of their respective years, Bellinger stands superior.
Updated Offense through 91 Games (July 15, 2019)
To this point of the season — entering the second matchup between the Dodgers and the Phillies here in mid-July — Cody has cooled some, but is still performing at an MVP pace.
Bellinger has played in 91 games and posted a .334/.431/.687 slash line with 73 RBIs, and leads the league in runs scored (72) and home runs with 31 (t-1).
Through 91 games in his 2015 MVP season, Harper had a .334/.465/.697 slash line with 27 home runs, 62 runs scored, and 64 RBIs.
At each respective season’s mid-way(ish) point, both players are on a pretty similar pace.
’15 Defense vs ’19 Defense: Through 52 games
Defensively Bellinger further separates himself from Harper. At the time of writing, Bellinger had only played 48 games in the outfield, as such, that sample size was used. Through those games Bellinger has had 88 put-outs, 7 outfield assists, 1 double play, and a .985 fielding percentage.
Cody Bellinger last night: HR and 2 Outfield Assists.?
Offensive WAR: 3.6 (1st)?
Defensive WAR: 1.1 (2nd) pic.twitter.com/uy0sQdpzxi
— MLB on uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM_MLB) May 28, 2019
Harper had 99 put-outs, 4 outfield assists, no double plays, and a .981 fielding percentage. Aside from put-outs Bellinger led Harper in all primary defensive categories. Furthermore, Bellinger is currently boasting a 1.3 dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) to Harper’s .4 dWAR he had for all of 2015.
Bellinger is Something Special
While the two players in their respective years are no doubt elite, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger is the better player to see in their outfield daily. As great as Harper’s 2015 was, the statistics really put into perspective how special of a moment we are all witnessing from Cody Bellinger. Whether he’s hitting home runs, throwing out runners from the outfield, or legging out a routine ground ball for an infield hit, he impacts the game.
Whats more, is he is impacting baseball itself. Through his style of play, he is making things like defense and hustle “cool” again. Sure he swings for the home runs, but put 2 strikes on him and his approach changes to a contact hitter. Above all, Bellinger is playing like a fundamentals role model for the next generation and honestly, that’s the MVP I want.