With the offseason upon us, it is time once again to look back on the season, reviewing each player one by one, at least daily from now until the end of the calendar year. We start with the presumptive National League Rookie of the Year winner in Cody Bellinger at first base.
What went right
Bellinger got his first call to the majors on April 25, debuting in San Francisco after just three weeks in Triple-A. He started hitting in that first week and rarely stopped the rest of the way.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to be a September call-up, maybe mid to end season,” Bellinger said. I had no expectations to get called up at the time I did. But when Triple-A season started, I wanted to do everything I could to have the front office trust me if they were to call me up.”
Bellinger hit nine home runs in May and 13 in June, the latter a Dodgers rookie record and two home runs shy of the franchise record for any player in a month. He won NL Rookie of the Month honors in both May and June.
He made the All-Star team, the third consecutive season a Dodgers rookie has played in the midsummer classic. Bellinger also took part in the Home Run Derby and reached the second round, losing to eventual champion and giant human Aaron Judge.
Despite spending the first 20 games of the season in the minors, Bellinger finished second in the NL in home runs with 39, establishing a National League record for rookies.
Bellinger became the third LA Dodger to hit for the cycle, driving in three in Miami on July 15.
He hit lefties well enough to become an everyday staple in the lineup, starting 90 times in the cleanup spot. Bellinger hit .271/.335/.568 against southpaws, and his 12 home runs against lefties were tied for third-most in the majors, behind only right-handers Nolan Arenado (16) and Giancarlo Stanton (15).
In addition to stellar defense at first base, Bellinger proved capable in the outfield as well, and might be the fastest player on the team.
“He's such a defensive star out there,” manager Dave Roberts said.
What went wrong
An awkward landing in right field in Detroit on Aug. 19 led to an ankle sprain that sidelined him for 10 days in his first career stint on the disabled list.
Bellinger struck out 17 times in the World Series — including becoming the first player with two golden sombreros in the same Fall Classic — setting a record for any postseason series. Bellinger was 4-for-28 in the World Series, hitting .143/.172/.393, and overall in his first postseason hit .219/.254/.453 with 29 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances. His strikeout rate of 43.3% in the postseason was well ahead of his 26.6% mark from the regular season.
Stats: .267/.352/.581, 39 HR, 97 RBI, 64 BB, 10 SB
Salary: pro-rated share of the major league minimum of $535,000
Game of the year
On June 13 in Cleveland, Cody Bellinger broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with a home run against fireman extraordinaire Andrew Miller, then added another home run in the ninth inning in the Dodgers’ 7-5 win over the Indians. It was one of six multi-homer games for Bellinger, and was the only home run the southpaw Miller allowed to a left-handed batter all season.
Bellinger is already a staple in the lineup, and won’t qualify for free agency until after 2023. He has 160 days of major league service time.