It turns out Aaron Judge is not the only massive rookie outfielder with huge power who’s taking his league by storm while playing for one of baseball’s marquee franchises.
Dodgers 21-year-old Cody Bellinger homered Saturday afternoon against the Reds, for his 19th long-ball of the season and his seventh in his last seven games. His 19 home runs (tied for the NL lead) in only 49 games would have him on pace for 63 over an 162-game season.
Perhaps due to Judge’s presence on the opposite coast, Bellinger’s absurd rookie season has gone relatively unnoticed. Through three plate appearances Saturday, the first baseman/outfielder was hitting .260/.335/.635 for a .965 OPS that would rank in the top 12 in the National League if he had a few more at-bats to qualify. Those numbers are even more impressive given that he’s posting them in Dodgers Stadium, an extreme pitcher’s park.
And unlike Judge, a late-blooming 25-year-old, a Bellinger is just shy of his 22nd birthday, having arrived on the Major-League scene ahead of schedule. When Bellinger was called up, we wrote that his promotion was evidence of the Dodgers’ impressive player-development operation, but we couldn’t have imagined he would have this kind of impact this quickly. Two months into his Major-League career, he leads Los Angeles in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage while ranking second in OPS. His power in particular has been a revelation.
If Cody Bellinger hits one more home run this weekend, he'll be the fastest to 20 HR in MLB history
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) June 17, 2017
Bellinger’s production has been especially valuable in light of Adrian Gonzalez’s decline and the continued underperformance of former hotshots Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers have shuffled Bellinger between first base and left field, and although he’s not a star defensively, his versatility has served them well.
Bellinger is only 49 games into his Major-League career, but he’s already a big part of a Dodgers team that could be the best in the National League. If he maintains anything close to his Maris-like home run pace, that won’t change any time soon.