It’s the offseason, meaning it’s time to take a look back and review the season for every Dodgers player from 2019. For those of you that are new, we go back and review every player that suited up for the Dodgers during the year.
Who better to kick things off than the 2019 N.L. MVP?
What went right
Overall, Cody Bellinger had one of the better offensive seasons we’ve seen in recent memory. He finished with a WAR of 9.0, leading all of baseball. He hit 47 home runs, finishing two shy of the all-time Dodgers record. He drove in 115 runs, scored 121 runs, and had an OPS of 1.035. His numbers won him his first career silver slugger award.
On top of having one of the best bats in baseball, he added one of the best gloves as well. He led all right fielders in baseball with 19 defensive runs saved. His stellar play in right field won him his first career Gold Glove Award.
Bellinger got off to one of the best starts we’ve seen in recent memory. Through the first 47 games of the season, he was hitting above .400 with an OPS of nearly 1.300. He was averaging a home run every 9.8 at-bats, and early on looked to be the MVP-frontrunner.
The biggest improvement for Bellinger in 2019 was his ability to hit left-handed pitching. In 2018, he hit only .226 against southpaws, which led to him being benched in games in which LA went up against a lefty. Not only did he squash the narrative that he couldn’t hit lefties, he proved to be one of the best hitters on the Dodgers against lefties. He hit .280 with a .982 OPS against left-handers in 2019. 18 of his home runs came against them, and struck out just under 20 percent of the time. Compare that to 2018, in which he struck out in 29 percent of his AB’s against lefties.
Speaking of better plate discipline, Bellinger’s eye at the plate improved drastically as well. He walked 95 times, which topped his career-best of 69 the year prior. Additionally, he struck out only 108 times, also a career-best. Among the 30 players in baseball who had at least 661 plate appearances in 2019, only six players struck out fewer than Bellinger.
Finally, he appeared in 156 games. Down from the 162 he appeared in the year prior, Bellinger’s ability to stay healthy and be a reliable bat in the lineup on a consistent basis was crucial for the Dodgers.
What went wrong
Compared to the scorching first few months of the season, Bellinger cooled down during the second half of the season. From May 22 until the end of the season, he hit “only .263”, which still isn’t awful. His biggest struggle came in the month of August, where he hit .235 over 28 games. Though it was his worst month at the plate, he still managed to hit eight homers, the second most of any month during the season.
Yet again, it was another rough postseason for Bellinger. Though it was a small sample size of five games, he still struggled at the plate. In five games, he hit .211 with seven strikeouts, and failed to drive in a run.
He’s now hitting .178 over the course of 36 career postseason games.
Stats: .305/.406/.629/1.035, 47 HR, 115 RBI, 121 R, 15 SB, 169 OPS+, 9.0 WAR
Game of the year
The most memorable game, and one of the more memorable moments of the season, came for Bellinger on July 3 at home versus the D-Backs. It was one of four games on the season in which he hit two homers. The difference in this one? A walk-off home run to win the game, accompanied by one of the best calls of Joe Davis’ career.
He still has three options remaining. However, coming off an MVP season, don’t be surprised if he and the Dodgers begin negotiating a long-term contract that will keep Bellinger in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future.