“Miracle upon miracle, he’s hit another one!”
Those were the words of Vin Scully on Oct. 3, 1993, when Mike Piazza capped his incredible rookie season with two home runs on the season’s final day. Piazza set the Dodgers franchise record with 35 home runs by a rookie on that day, a mark that stood for 24 years, until Cody Bellinger tied it on Saturday afternoon against the Padres in San Diego.
On his fourth day back from the disabled list after missing nine games with a right ankle sprain, Bellinger’s 35th home run came against Clayton Richard in the fourth inning, a solo shot to right center field.
Bellinger still has plenty of time left in the season to build on the record, with 31 games remaining in the season, and his current total is even more amazing given that he spent the first 20 games of the major league season in Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Almost from the jump, Bellinger started hitting, and he hasn’t really stopped, helping to fuel an absurd Dodgers surge from a 9-11 start to the season to their current 92-41 record, on pace for 112 wins.
Entering Saturday, the Dodgers were 77-23 in games Bellinger has started, and 15-18 when he has not.
Bellinger hasn’t let up since the Home Run Derby, either. After hitting 25 home runs in 70 games with a .619 slugging percentage before the All-Star break, he has 10 home runs and a .579 slugging percentage in 35 games since. In August, Bellinger has seven home runs in 20 games.
Bellinger has hit his 35 home runs in just 105 games. The only player in major league history with more home runs in their first 100 career games is Mark McGwire, with 37 home runs in 1986-87.
In addition to tying the Dodgers record, Bellinger is also closing in on the National League record for home runs by rookie. Only three NL rookies have ever hit more home runs than Bellinger — Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956) share the record at 38, with Albert Pujols (2001) close behind at 37.
McGwire owns the major league record for home runs by a rookie, hitting 49 in 1987 for the A’s.