In 2017, the Dodgers called up top prospect Cody Bellinger who took baseball by storm and instantly became a fan favorite. He went on to jack 39 home runs that season, establishing a new National League rookie home run record (it has since been broken this season) en route to NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Now, another top prospect in Will Smith has become an instant fan favorite as well, but he’s done it in a different way.
Smith started the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City quickly changed the narrative that he was a glove-only player. Before being called up to the Dodgers in late May, “Smitty” had an OPS of .966 in 40 AAA games, by far the highest of his career. He earned his call up and made his MLB debut on May 28, going 2-4 with a double.
A few days later he cracked his first big league home run at Dodger Stadium, which just so happened to be of the walk-off variety. After being sent down and recalled a few times, and adding some more home run heroics to his ledger along the way, manager Dave Roberts compared Will Smith’s start to Yasiel Puig’s first season
with the Dodgers in 2013.
Another impressive feat for the Fresh Prince was surpassing Cody Bellinger for most HR and RBI in franchise history over a player’s first 23 games played. He also matched Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins for the most home runs through a player’s first 28 career games with 12.
Now a look at the numbers
The whole point of this post is to look at and compare the first 30 games between Will Smith and Cody Bellinger.
Bellinger went on to finish that season with a .267/.352/.581 triple slash line with 39 HR and 97 RBI in 480 at-bats. That was a memorable season for Bellinger, as the Dodgers reached the World Series against the Houston Astros. The Dodgers were the National League champions, and Bellinger was the NL Rookie of the Year.
In Will Smith’s first 30 career games, he’s out pacing Belli by a lot. While he won’t have time to accumulate the numbers that Cody had in his first season, where Smith can put himself over the top is in the World Series. And together now, they both have great chances to do something magical in October.
Smith is a unique talent on both sides of the ball early in his career, and he will continue to get even better. Thankfully, Dodgers Nation is in good hands with the Fresh Prince behind the dish.