The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t had a true, positional superstar player in quite some time. Manny Machado doesn’t qualify, neither does Manny Ramirez.
Clearly, Clayton Kershaw was, maybe still is, a superstar pitcher and Walker Buehler is trying to get there. Adrian Beltre had a monster year in his last year as a Dodger but it wasn’t sustained, as he moved on. Mike Piazza is the most recent name that comes to mind, but even he was never given the Barry Bonds treatment that Cody Bellinger has been receiving lately.
Bellinger’s 2019 season has really raised eyebrows across the league. He leads the league in many offensive categories and his walks outnumber his strikeouts – a category that he struggled in the previous two years. Bellinger is also getting intentionally walked more than he ever has. He has been intentionally walked in one game – twice in Thursday night’s game against the Nationals – the same number of times as his career total in intentional free passes. The league has adapted.
What remains to see is if Bellinger can adapt back, and keep his patience to take those unofficial plate appearances and free total base, or if he will press and try to do more. The Dodgers patience as a team at the plate has led to their offensive breakout to start the season, and if that is to continue, Bellinger must hold steady. The guy is still only 23 years old and is looking every bit able to be the superstar the Dodgers have been missing for years.
The Dodgers didn’t want to devote over a dozen years and a ton of money to secure Bryce Harper in the offseason. Though, it appears as if Bellinger is going to be much better offensively, and clearly defensively as well, than Harper.
Now that Bellinger is playing the same position full-time as Harper would have filled, it looks like the front office knew exactly what they were doing. In short, Bellinger is making them look good. Real good. Barry Bonds good.
Feature Photo: Yong Teck Lim - Getty Images