Dodgers Dugout: Cody Bellinger is having the best season in Dodger history

Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and the Dodgers are on pace to win 111 games.

Season for the ages

Imagine having the season Cody Bellinger is having. A season so good you can have a 10-game hitting streak, like he does currently, and see your batting average fall from .394 to .376. A season where you can go one for three and see your batting average drop.

Those are good problems to have. If the season ended today, he’d be the unanimous choice for MVP. Of course, the season doesn’t end today. It continues on.

But at this moment, Bellinger is having the greatest offensive season in Dodger history. Yes, better than Mike Piazza. Better than Duke Snider. Better than Steve Garvey or Reggie Smith or Shawn Green or Gil Hodges or Zack Wheat or anyone else you can name. Don’t believe me? Let’s use OPS+ to see who had the best season in Dodger history, minimum 249 plate appearances (Bellinger has 249 plate appearances this season). We’ll list each player’s season stats as well. Remember, OPS+ basically compares a player’s stats to the league average that season, so it removes any bias to inflated or deflated stats caused by juiced balls, dead balls, etc. As an example, a player who hits .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs in a season where the league average is very high (think the late 1990s steroid era) will have a much lower OPS+ than a player who hits .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs in a season like 1968, when pitching dominated.

This allows us to compare players from different years. A player with an OPS+ of 100 is a league average hitter. Having an OPS+ of 110 means you are 10% better than league average. An OPS+ of 90 means you are 10% worse. And so on.


2019 Cody Bellinger (249 PA’s), 216 OPS+, .376/.462/.733

2013 Hanley Ramirez (336), 189 OPS+, .345/.402/.638

1997 Mike Piazza (633), 185 OPS+, .362/.431/.638

1985 Pedro Guerrero (581), 182 OPS+, .320/.422/.577

1906 Harry Lumley (554), 179 OPS+, .324/.386/.477

2000 Gary Sheffield (612), 176 OPS+, .325/.438/.643

2011 Matt Kemp (689), 172 OPS+, .324/.399/.586

1995 Mike Piazza (475), 172 OPS+, .346/.400/.606

1944 Dixie Walker (611), 172 OPS+, .357/.434/.529

1954 Duke Snider (679), 171 OPS+, .341/.423/.647

1955 Duke Snider (653), 169 OPS+, .309/.418/.628

1930 Babe Herman (699), 169 OPS+, .393/.455/.678

1901 Jimmy Sheckard (609), 169 OPS+, .354/.409/.534

1977 Reggie Smith (603), 168 OPS+, .307/.427/.576

1996 Mike Piazza (631),166 OPS+, .336/.422/.563

1953 Duke Snider (680), 165 OPS+. .336/.419/.627

2001 Gary Sheffield (618), 164 OPS+, .311/.417/.583

1941 Dolph Camilli (641), 164 OPS+, .285/.407/.556

1941 Pete Reiser (601), 164 OPS+, .343/.406/.558

2004 Adrian Beltre (657), 163 OPS+, .334/.388/.629

So, as you can see, Bellinger is on his way to doing something truly historic in Dodger history. Can he keep it up? I think that while he may not hit .376 all season, he will hit over .300 with power and will finish at or near the top of this list. And when you factor in his Gold Glove-level defense, you get perhaps the greatest season by a position player in Dodger history.

You may be thinking “Big deal. I bet lots of Dodgers have had starts this great and then faded.” Not so fast. Let’s take a look at all Dodgers who had at least 249 plate appearances before the All-Star break and see where they rank by OPS+ at the break.

2019 Cody Bellinger, 216

1954 Duke Snider, 211

1955 Duke Snider, 197

1930 Babe Herman, 191

2017 Justin Turner, 183

1955 Roy Campanella, 182

1923 Jack Fournier, 181

1985 Pedro Guerrero, 181

1942 Pete Reiser, 180

1961 Wally Moon, 178

Again, Bellinger tops the list. We still have another month until the break, so he can still drop (or improve), but right now he is putting together a season the likes of which has never been done for the Dodgers.

Be nice

It was nice to see Joe Kelly pitch a scoreless inning in Sunday’s 8-0 win over Philadelphia. He has certainly taken a pounding this season from fans and the media, including me.

But I want to point out something that happened recently that is a lesson for all of us, including me.

On May 24, Kelly was put on the bereavement list for reasons that were undisclosed. A player can only be put on this list when there is a death or serious illness in his or his spouse’s immediate family. It’s something that Dave Roberts hinted that Kelly has been dealing with all season. Kelly sat out three games while on the list and has since returned.

When the Dodgers announced he had been put on the bereavement list, I got some emails, and people tweeted publicly, that they hope someone dies every week in his family so he can remain on the bereavement list all season.

Now, this doesn’t apply to 99% of you. I get that. The vast majority of Dodgers fans are decent people. But it’s a good reminder to all of us that these players are human, and we don’t know what their lives are like away from the stadium. I’m not saying fans shouldn’t boo. Boo, criticize a player’s performance, sure, you pay your ticket, you are entitled to certain things.

But if you find yourself calling a player names, or making it personal, or anything like that, take a step back and look at the big picture.

Today’s the day

Teams can sign free agent Craig Kimbrel and Dallas Keuchel today (and any day after this) without giving up a draft pick in return. In fact, one or both may have signed by the time you read this. Where will they sign, and how long will it take them to get into playing shape to join the team?

Ask Joe Davis

Dodgers TV broadcaster will answer your questions again this season. Just click here to email me with your question for Joe. I will pass selected questions on to him and he will answer in a future newsletter. Thanks. And thanks to Joe for taking part.

NL West standings

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

Dodgers, 41-19, ---

Colorado, 31-27, 9 GB

San Diego, 30-28, 10 GB

Arizona, 30-30, 11 GB

San Francisco, 24-34, 16 GB

If the season had ended Sunday, Atlanta would play at Chicago in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on the Dodgers in one NLDS. The other NLDS would be Philadelphia at Milwaukee.

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

These names seem familiar

What Dodgers with the team last season and earlier this season are doing around the league (through Saturday):

Travis d’Arnaud, Rays, .175/.244/.225, 29 OPS+

Brian Dozier, Nationals, .209/.299/.362, 70 OPS+

Kyle Farmer, Reds, .225/.273/.479, 90 OPS+

Logan Forsythe, Rangers, .294/.408/.468, 126 OPS+

Yasmani Grandal, Brewers, .277/.379/.531, 135 OPS+

Daniel Hudson, Blue Jays, 3-2, 3.81 ERA

Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks, .275/.442/.400, 122 OPS+.

Matt Kemp, Mets, .200/.210/.283, 28 OPS+. Still recovering from broken rib.

Manny Machado, Padres, .259/.345/.424, 107 OPS+

Yasiel Puig, Reds, .218/.268/.391, 68 OPS+

Zac Rosscup, Blue Jays, 2-0, 4.80 ERA. Designated for assignment by Toronto.

Alex Wood, Reds, on IL with sore back. Out until at least the All-Star break.

TV schedule

KTLA will televise one more Dodger game this season:

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

Up next

Today: Dodgers (Walker Buehler) at Arizona (*Robbie Ray), 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday: Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu) at Arizona (Taylor Clarke), 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) at Arizona (Jon Duplantier), 12:30 p.m.


In case you missed it

Tony Cingrani likely to miss rest of season

Dodgers ready to let the board dictate their draft strategy

Today’s lesson is home run science. Your guest instructor: The Dodgers

Rick Honeycutt works through the pain of spine-fusion surgery

And finally

An inside look at the Dodgers 2018 alumni luncheon. 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.