The Los Angeles Dodgers had a changing of the guard at first base in 2017, as veteran Adrian Gonzalez dealt with injuries for the most of the season, paving the way for top prospect Cody Bellinger to reach the Majors sooner than expected.
Bellinger made the most of his opportunities, becoming one of the bright young stars in baseball. He was named a National League All-Star and won a unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Award.
The 22-year-old bounced around some, playing all three outfield positions before ultimately settling in at his natural first base. Now heading into his second season, Bellinger will be the team’s everyday first baseman.
It was already clear but further cemented when Gonzalez was traded and has since gone on to sign with the New York Mets.
MLB Network’s ‘The Shredder’ is extremely high on Bellinger and his potential, as despite just one year of MLB service time, they ranked him the fifth-best first baseman in all of baseball.
Bellinger checked in behind only Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo. Analysts Brian Kenny and Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Thome are also very high on Bellinger, as they ranked him fourth and seventh, respectively.
“I think the pressure that he had on him coming to the big leagues on a really good team, how he made the adjustments on the breaking balls and obviously, you look at the swing I love. He’s got the launch swing to produce,” Thome said of Bellinger.
“I think as much as we want to reward the guys that have done it for years, you also got to reward these young guys because they’re wonderful talents and I think his stock is only going to rise as he goes.”
Despite playing just 132 games for the Dodgers, as he got called up towards the end of April, Bellinger hit .267/.352/.581 with an NL rookie-record 39 home runs, to go along with 97 RBIs and 87 runs scored. The 39 homers were the most among all big league first basemen.
Bellinger has put on around 15 lbs. of muscle this offseason, so those power numbers could continue to rise as the future is extremely bright for the Dodgers young first baseman.
|Rank||The Shredder||Brian Kenny||Jim Thome|
|1||Joey Votto (CIN)||Joey Votto (CIN)||Paul Goldschmidt (AZ)|
|2||Freddie Freeman (ATL)||Freddie Freeman (ATL)||Joey Votto (CIN)|
|3||Paul Goldschmidt (AZ)||Paul Goldschmidt (AZ)||Jose Abreu (CHW)|
|4||Anthony Rizzo (CHC)||Cody Bellinger (LAD)||Anthony Rizzo (CHC)|
|5||Cody Bellinger (LAD)||Anthony Rizzo (CHC)||Eric Hosmer (FA)|
|6||Jose Abreu (CHW)||Jose Abreu (CHW)||Freddie Freeman (ATL)|
|7||Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)||Miguel Cabrera (DET)||Cody Bellinger (LAD)|
|8||Brandon Belt (SF)||Eric Hosmer (FA)||Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)|
|9||Matt Carpenter (STL)||Matt Carpenter (STL)||Justin Smoak (TOR)|
|10||Carlos Santana (PHI)||Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)||Miguel Cabrera (DET)|