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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: A closer look at Cody Bellinger’s amazing start

Pittsburgh Pirates v Los Angeles Dodgers
Cody Bellinger
(John McCoy / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and yes, “Avengers: Endgame” was worth the wait.

Historic start

So, the Dodgers swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and are now 19-11, on pace to win 103 games this season. That’s pretty good, I’ll take that.

But I want to talk about Cody Bellinger, who is off to an amazing start. How amazing? Let’s take a look.

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After Sunday’s game, Bellinger is hitting .427/.500/.913, which is an incredible pace. He is on pace to finish with 76 home runs, 194 RBIs and 162 runs scored.

A lot of people have pointed out that he has the record for most home runs in March/April, or the most total bases, or most RBIs, etc. The problem with that is that years ago, teams didn’t start playing in March, they started playing in mid-April. Let’s take a look at some season start dates for the Dodgers.

2019: March 28

2009: April 6

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1999: April 5

1989: April 3

1979: April 5

1969: April 7

1959: April 11:

1949: April 19

1939: April 18

You get the idea. Most years started one or two weeks later than more recent seasons, giving Bellinger a head start on counting stats. It’s like when people say someone has the most homers in postseason history. It’s nice, but most years there was only the World Series and nothing else. Or just the LCS and World Series.

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This does not diminish what Bellinger is doing. In fact, I think when people point out his counting stats, such as homers or RBIs, they are somewhat diminishing him without intending to. Instead, let’s look at his rate stats. Bellinger has 124 plate appearances, so let’s look at all players in Dodgers history who had at least 80 plate appearances in March/April and see how Bellinger compares.

Batting average

Cookie Lavagetto, 1941, .429

Cody Bellinger, 2019, .427

Ron Cey, 1977, .425

Matt Kemp, 2012, .417

Paul Lo Duca, 2004, .416

Justin Turner, 2017, .404

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Reggie Smith, 1980, .387

Frank Howard, 1963, .384

Adrian Gonzalez, 2015, .383

Rafael Furcal, 2008, .381

If you widen the net to any player in major-league history, then Bellinger is 16th all time.

OB%

Cookie Lavagetto, 1941, .550

Ron Cey, 1977, .543

Cody Bellinger, 2019, .500

Manny Ramirez, 2009, .500

Matt Kemp, 2012, .490

Justin Turner, 2017, .465

Brett Butler, 1994, .462

Rafael Furcal, 2008, .462

Gary Sheffield, 2000, .460

Frank Howard, 1963, .458

Again, if you widen the net, Bellinger is 45th.

Slugging%

Cody Bellinger, 2019, .913

Matt Kemp, 2012, .893

Ron Cey, 1977, .890

Gary Sheffield, 2000, .795

Adrian Gonzalez, 2015, .790

Rick Monday, 1978, .765

Tim Wallach, 1994, .732

Manny Ramirez, 2009, .654

Pedro Guerrero, 1987, .653

Adrian Beltre, 2004, .647

If you widen the net, Bellinger is third all-time, behind 2004 Barry Bonds (1.132) and 2006 Albert Pujols (.914).

OPS+

Cody Bellinger, 2019, 291 (An average player is 100, so Bellinger is 191% better than the average player).

Ron Cey, 1977, 289

Matt Kemp, 2012, 281

Adrian Gonzalez, 2015, 240

Rick Monday, 1978, 238

Frank Howard, 1963, 223

Jim Wynn, 1975, 209

Gary Sheffield, 2000, 209

Cookie Lavagetto, 1941, 209

Joe Ferguson, 1973, 209

Widen the net, and Bellinger is fourth all-time trailing 2004 Barry Bonds (369), 1970 Tony Perez (298) and 1993 Barry Bonds (297).

So, there you have it. Even when you make the April comparison a little more fair, Bellinger is having one of the greatest Aprils in history.

His at-bat in the seventh inning on Sunday showed why he is a complete hitter this season. Facing lefty Francisco Liriano, Bellinger swung at two sliders well off the plate. The Bellinger of last season would have struck out. But instead he worked the count back in his favor and lined a single to right-center, scoring the all-important seventh run in a 7-6 victory.

Sad news

Billy Hefley, the husband of former Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley, passed away recently. Billy, who worked in construction, helped build Dodger Stadium and Nancy played the organ from 1988 to 2015, when she retired. Billy attended every game with Nancy, sitting in the room with her while she played. It was truly a touching love story that Bill Plaschke wrote about here. Nancy, Dodger fans everywhere salute you and wish you as much peace as possible during this time.

NL West standings

A look at the NL West standings after Sunday’s games:

Dodgers, 19-11, ---

San Diego, 16-12, 2 GB

Arizona, 16-13, 2.5 GB

Colorado, 13-15, 5 GB

San Francisco, 11-17, 7 GB

If the playoffs started today, Arizona would play at San Diego in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on the Dodgers in one NLDS. The other NLDS would feature Philadelphia at St. Louis.

In the AL, Seattle would play at New York in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on Tampa Bay in one ALDS. The other ALDS would feature Houston at Minnesota.

There’s only about 132 games left in the season, so you can pretty much lock those playoff matchups in. After all, the Dodgers’ magic number to win the West is only 132.

These names seem familiar

What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):

Brian Dozier, Nationals, .173/.287/.347, 64 OPS+

Kyle Farmer, Reds, .167/.250/.542, 98 OPS+

Logan Forsythe, Rangers, .271/.373/.435, 107 OPS+

Yasmani Grandal, Brewers, .294/.371/.529, 131 OPS+

Daniel Hudson, Blue Jays, 1-1, 4.63 ERA

Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks, .364/.563/.364, 147 OPS+. Back in minors

Matt Kemp, Reds, .200/.210/.283, 27 OPS+. On IL with broken rib.

Manny Machado, Padres, .245/.336/.394, 98 OPS+

Yasiel Puig, Reds, .205/.217/.375, 50 OPS+

Zac Rosscup, Mariners, 2-0, 2.35 ERA

Alex Wood, Reds, on IL with sore back

TV schedule

KTLA will televise five more Dodger games during the season. They are:

Saturday, May 11, vs. Washington, 6 p.m.

Monday, May 27, vs. New York Mets, 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 30, vs. New York Mets, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 1, vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 15, vs. Chicago Cubs, 6 p.m.

Up next

Today: Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) at San Francisco (Jeff Samardzija, 6:45 p.m.

Tuesday: Dodgers (Walker Buehler) at San Francisco (*Drew Pomeranz), 6:45 p.m.

Wednesday: Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu) at San Francisco (*Madison Bumgarner), 6:45 p.m.

*-left-handed

And finally

Game 7 of the 1965 World Series between the Dodgers and Minnesota Twins. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.


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