After winning Rookie of the Year in 2017, the sky was the limit for Cody Bellinger heading into his second season. He struggled a bit in his sophomore campaign, but ultimately put together a very solid year.
What went right
The most important thing Bellinger contributed all season was his health. He appeared in all 162 games, something which is uncommon in today’s game.
The 23-year-old showed a steady balance of power and speed, hitting 25 home runs and stealing 14 bases. He was one of only 10 players in all of baseball who accomplished both stats.
Up until around August, it truly was a sophomore slump. Entering August 2, Bellinger was hitting only .236/.325/.451/.776. For Bellinger, a five-RBI performance against Milwaukee would turn everything around.
The rest of the month, Bellinger was arguably the hottest hitter in all of baseball. He hit .363/.410/.560/.970. Tack on four homers and 19 runs driven in.
He cooled down in the month of September, but recaptured that hot hitting during the last week of the regular season. With a sixth-consecutive division title on the line, Bellinger was LA’s hottest hitter. Hitting .350 with an OPS of 1.031, he helped push LA into a first-place tie with Colorado to end the season.
The Dodgers found themselves in a tiebreaker game with the Rockies to determine the winner of the NL West. Tied in the fourth, Bellinger connected on his 25th homer of the season, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, as LA would win their sixth straight division title.
Bellinger went on to win NLCS MVP, largely due to some major heroics.
His diving grab here helped prevent a potential extra-base-hit in a crucial game four against the Brewers.
His heroism continued on later into the game, as he delivered a walk-off single in the 13th. The single tied the series at two, and gave the Dodgers momentum in the series.
His heroic efforts were on full display in game seven, as this two-run homer helped give the Dodgers an early lead in a series-clinching victory for LA.
What went wrong
You could say it was a sophomore slump for Bellinger. His numbers dropped all across the board. He had a decrease in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Though he played in 30 more games than his rookie campaign, he hit 14 less home runs and drove in 21 less runs.
His success against left-handed pitchers took a major hit. In 2017, Bellinger thrived against lefties, hitting .271 against them. In 2018, he hit only .226.
Though he took home NLCS honors, Bellinger yet again struggled in the postseason. As a whole, he hit .115/.193/.192/.385 with 16 strikeouts. For Bellinger, he now owns a career .172 batting average in the postseason.
Stats: .260/.343/.470/.814, 25 HR, 76 RBI, 14 SB, 120 OPS+, 4.2 WAR
Game of the year
As mentioned earlier, Bellinger essentially won game 4 of the NLCS for the Dodgers. Thanks to a great defensive play in the outfield and a walk-off single, Bellinger helped tie the series at two games.
Bellinger has three options remaining. He’ll split time between first base and the outfield.