Cody Bellinger reached another major milestone in his bid to become the 2019 National League MVP. With his bases-clearing double in the fourth inning of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Bellinger became the organization’s first player since Adrian Gonzalez in 2014 to record 100 RBI in a single season.
The moment was comically overshadowed by Bellinger’s pants falling down as he was thrown out trying to reach third base. Bellinger later said that he had did not know how the wardrobe malfunction happened and laughed off the whole incident.
Still, the double solidified Bellinger’s place among some of the top left-handed hitters in L.A. Dodgers history. He joins Shawn Green in 2001 and 2002, J.D. Drew in 2006, and former teammates Andre Ethier (2009) and Gonzalez (2013, 2014) and the only lefty hitters to have a 100-RBI season since the Dodgers moved west in 1958.
Bellinger also currently has 42 home runs, already a new career high. He is on pace to break Green’s single-season franchise record of 49, which was set in 2002.
After a breakout Rookie of the Year campaign in 2017, in which he essentially displaced Gonzalez at first base, Bellinger suffered a major slump in 2018. But he has reached new heights this season, which he credits to continued growth as a player.
“I don’t think I could say it’s one thing,” Bellinger said. “It’s a combination of confidence and understanding what I’m doing, with help from our hitting coaches of getting me dialed in every day.
“Just continuing to learn about the game, just understanding how I’m feeling. If I have to compete a little harder or if I’m feeling good, taking advantage of those days. Just trying to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Bellinger and Max Muncy have a good chance of becoming the first left-handed Dodgers teammates to record 100 RBI each in the same season, with Muncy currently at 86.
That used to be a much bigger accomplishment, but the significance of RBI as a statistic has lost value as baseball came to embrace analytics and refused to hold hitters accountable for how many runners were on base when they were at the plate.
However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts still sees some benefits to the old-fashioned metric.
“I still believe [RBI] is a legitimate statistic. The object is to drive in runs and to score runs,” Roberts said. “When you can drive in 100 runs before September, it’s pretty remarkable. [Bellinger has] had a tremendous season up to this point.”
Bellinger became the fourth MLB player to reach the 100-RBI mark this season, joining Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves, Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox and Eduardo Escobar of the Arizona Diamondbacks.