Cody Bellinger, called up when he was only because of injuries on the Dodgers’ big-league roster, gave the rest of the league a three-week head start. He’s caught up. With his 20th and 21st home runs in last night’s 10-6 win over the Mets, Bellinger now leads the NL in home runs, and is just two behind the Yankees’ Aaron Judge.
The 21-year-old Bellinger went yard in each of the first two innings off of Zack Wheeler, and I’m a big fan of his swing, at least aesthetically. He stands upright and gets full extension, swinging with a violent, scooping motion. (Maybe it’s the uniform, but it reminds me of Shawn Green’s swing.) When he gets the barrel on the ball, there’s little doubt.
With two in two innings, Bellinger was definitely looking for more. In his third at-bat he struck out swinging, on a cut that could only have been seeking the seats.
“I don’t blame him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I told him anybody can hit two home runs. I wanted to see him hit three myself.”
Even without a three-homer game (which feels like it’s just a matter of time, honestly), Bellinger is doing some amazing stuff.
- Bellinger is the fastest ever to 21 home runs to start an MLB career. His first homer was his 20th in 51 career games, tying Wally Berger in 1930 and Gary Sanchez in 2016. His second homer puts him all alone.
- He is only the fourth player age 21 or younger to hit 20 home runs before the all-star break, along with Eddie Mathews (27 in 1953), Albert Pujols (21 in 2001), and Miguel Cabrera (20 in 2004).
- His fifth multi-homer game (with three in his last nine games) ties Mike Piazza in 1993 for the most ever by a Dodgers rookie. Only one rookie in MLB history had more: Mark McGwire, with seven in 1987.
The most important thing now, obviously, is to get Bellinger into next month’s home run derby. He’s definitely been thinking about it—he said, if asked, he’d participate, and he’d bring his father, former major leaguer Clay Bellinger, to pitch to him. “I think it would be pretty cool,” he said. “It would be pretty special if my dad could throw to me. He’s been throwing BP to me my whole life.” Make this happen, MLB.