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On Cody Bellinger, walking more, steals, and lineup protection

2nd Dodgers first baseman with 30 HR & 10 SB

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Bellinger reached base twice in Friday’s series-opening win over the Nationals, but it was the wheels of the Dodgers’ first baseman that saw him reach a milestone of sorts.

After a leadoff walk in the third inning against Edwin Jackson, Bellinger stole second base. It was his 10th steal of the season, giving the Dodgers three players with double digits in both home runs and steals in 2017. Bellinger, who has 37 home runs, joins Chris Taylor (19 home runs, 16 steals) and Yasiel Puig (26 home runs, 14 steals) in the LA 10/10 club.

It’s the first time the Dodgers have done that since Adrian Beltre, Shawn Green and Gary Sheffield in 2001.

2017 Dodgers with 10 HR & 10 SB

Player HR SB
Player HR SB
Chris Taylor 19 16
Yasiel Puig 26 14
Cody Bellinger 37 10

The franchise record for players with at least 10 home runs and 10 steals in a season is four, set in 1949, 1978, and 1999. The next closest Dodger this season to joining the group is Justin Turner, with 20 home runs and six stolen bases, so barring a late-season surge by Turner the Dodgers will likely just have the trio of 10/10 players.

Bellinger is just the second Dodgers first baseman (defined here as someone who played at least half their games at the position) with 30 home runs and 10 steals in a season. Eric Karros had 31 homers and 15 steals in 1997, a season that saw him so confident on the bases that Karros tried a straight steal of home against Andy Ashby of the Padres that season.

The attempt was not successful. From the LA Times game story:

"I thought I had a pretty good jump," Karros said. "He just wasn't paying attention. I thought I could make it."

Karros and Bellinger are two of six Dodgers first basemen with 20 home runs and 10 steals in the same season, along with Jack Fournier (1923), Dolph Camilli (1942), Gil Hodges (1949) and Steve Garvey (1978).

The walk for Bellinger on Friday gave him six straight games with a walk, with eight walks during that span. The walk on Friday wasn’t intentional, but the previous five walks were, all during the three-game series in San Francisco.

Yasiel Puig, who homered on Friday and has four consecutive two-hit games, batted fifth in the series opener, batting behind Bellinger. Puig is hitting fifth again on Saturday, and is hitting .319/.373/.596 in September, with nine extra-base hits in 12 starts.

“That is something we’re trying to work through,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters before Friday’s game. “If there is nobody behind Cody who is potent or productive, then it really doesn’t serve any team a purpose to pitch to him. You have one of our best bats in the lineup, and we want him to see pitches.”

Bellinger is hitting .288/.383/.615 with nine extra-base hits in September, and has reached base in 12 of his 14 games this month.

Pitching matchup

Rich Hill starts on the mound for the Dodgers, facing one of his former organizations. The left-hander was on a minor league deal with Washington in 2015 and pitched 25 games in relief for Triple-A Syracuse before opting out of his contract and finding his path to resuscitating his career as a major league starter.

A.J. Cole starts for the Nationals, making his seventh start of the season for Washington. Cole has 21 walks and 32 strikeouts in his 37⅔ major league innings this season. With Syracuse in 2015, Hill also had 21 walks and 32 strikeouts, but in 21⅔ innings.

Game info

Time: 10:05 a.m.

TV: Fox