Cody Bellinger is living the life right about now. Not only are the Los Angeles Dodgers sporting an 8-3 record with baseball’s second-best run differential (+35) heading into Tuesday night, but there are also only three hitters with a better wRC+ than Bellinger’s 266 mark (Mike Trout, Tim Anderson, and Tim Beckham).
As if that wasn’t enough, the reigning National League Player of the Week is tied for the league lead with Trout in fWAR (1.2) and is leading the way in home runs (seven). His latest work of art came at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday Night Baseball:
How significant has this power binge been? Well, before teams take the field on Tuesday night, he’s officially hit more homers on his own than three different teams (Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers). Bellinger is also currently tied with three other teams in the dinger category (Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants).
It’s hard to say that Bellinger disappointed in 2018, because posting a 120 wRC+ with 25 homers and a 3.6 fWAR is far from a disappointment. However, this performance was a small step back from his NL Rookie of the Year campaign in ’17, where he posted a 138 wRC+ with 39 dingers and 4.0 fWAR in just 548 plate appearances (632 plate appearances in ’18).
So far in 2019, though, he’s been red hot. His 32.5% line-drive rate will come back down to reality soon enough (career-high 19.9% rate in ’18). But since he’s posted a hard-hit rate of 40.0% or above in each of the past two seasons, his current 52.5% hard-hit rate may not be too outlandish at this point.
His chase rate is down nearly 10 percentage points compared to last season’s year-end number, and that’s partially because Bellinger is getting into advantageous counts more often. After seeing first-pitch strikes at a 58.1% clip in ’18, that number is currently at 47.1%.
Being ahead earlier in counts has also seemingly helped him be more comfortable with secondary pitches. The sample sizes are very uneven, but take a peek at how he’s performed against changeups and curveballs thus far:
This season’s numbers are inflated due to the time of the year, but you get the picture — dude is straight-up crushing things right now.
According to FantasyPros, Bellinger was ranked as the 28th-best hitter and 39th-best player overall coming into this season. His 40.4 Average Draft Position had him behind some of the usual suspects when talking about fantasy baseball studs, but he’s currently the top-ranked hitter in Yahoo leagues. That’s what happens when you lead the league in homers and runs scored (18), while being tied for the league in RBI (19) and second in batting average (.435).
Bellinger looks to be on a mission to take another step forward in 2019. Those who took him in the fourth round in 12-team fantasy baseball leagues are reaping huge benefits in the early going.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book and created an online class about how to get started as a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.