Whicker: Cody Bellinger was on top shelf of Dodgers’ full cupboard
By Mark Whicker
Light all the hot stoves you want. You won’t figure out the coming season any better than you foresaw the previous one.
Not unless you can find all those November, 2016 headlines that read: “Bellinger’s 39 Homers Will Lead Dodgers Back To Series.”
Even Cody Bellinger said he was anticipating a long season of polishing at Triple-A Oklahoma City before a September call-up to Dodger Stadium.
Instead he led the Dodgers in slugging percentage, home runs and RBIs, and on Monday, like Corey Seager before him, he became the unanimous National League Rookie of the Year.
Building a baseball champion requires multiple contractors. Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations who came in 2014, has re-routed the organization in several fruitful ways.
But Bellinger, Seager, Kenley Jansen and Joc Pederson were already here (as was Clayton Kershaw, of course). When Friedman was wearing champagne shampoo in Wrigley Field last month, he paid homage to “(former GM) Ned Colletti and all those who brought some great players, and then we were able to build around.” That was not obligatory grace.
Bellinger has startling power, underrated speed, great fielding range, heaven-sent hands at first base, and an excellent approach to big-league life. The older Dodgers adopted him early, after he came up in late April and turned the ballpark into 2-for-1 Homer Night.
Andre Ethier teased him and drove him, and Bellinger, son of big-league infielder Clay, gave it back. He was just goofy enough to invite the barbs, more so than the eerily composed Seager, and yet he was confident and professional enough to deal with the media questions more comprehensively than any teammate, night after playoff night.
The Dodgers were 89-38 when he started, 15-20 when he didn’t.
Yet Bellinger was a fourth-round pick from Hamilton High, outside Phoenix. “He hit one home run when he was a […]