With Cody Bellinger largely leading the way, the Los Angeles Dodgers have stormed out a commanding lead in the National League West standings and the best record in baseball.
The Dodgers’ overpowering offense, which currently leads the National League with an .815 on-base plus slugging percentage, has been on full display during various stretches. While Bellinger is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season, the Dodgers have once again received key contributions from unheralded depth players.
Matt Beaty, Kyle Garlick and top-tier prospect Will Smith are among those who started the year in Triple-A Oklahoma City and impressed in their first tastes of Major League action. So too has Alex Verdugo, who’s earned his way to a larger role than initially anticipated.
That depth has proved crucial to the Dodgers’ historically hot start as they have already dealt with significant injuries to Corey Seager, A.J. Pollock, and now Chris Taylor.
The collective impact of the Dodgers’ organizational depth has not been lost on Bellinger, via SportsNet LA:
“A lot of dudes that can play in this organization. [Garlick] is one of them. That was probably great for him to get the monkey off his back, get he first one out of the way. Hopefully he can keep going and carry that momentum.”
Beaty received more opportunities in the infield after Seager’s hamstring strain, while Smith has continued to excel in Triple-A after head-turning stints for the Dodgers.
Garlick didn’t get quite as much playing time, but has proven valuable whether making a spot start or being called on as a pinch-hitter. Garlick, Beaty, Smith and Walker Buehler are Dodgers who have hit their first career home run this season.
Bellinger himself seized a similar opportunity to build momentum and never look back during his first weeks in the Majors in 2017. Even as his promotion to the Dodgers in the wake of outfield injuries surprised some.
Though he was the team’s top prospect at the time, Bellinger still blew past expectations with a National League rookie record 39 home runs on his way to a Rookie of the Year Award and the Dodgers’ first World Series appearance in 29 years.
Bellinger became the Dodgers second consecutive NL Rookie of the Year, joining Seager. He and Seager are just two faces of the franchise’s youth movement under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Others include Buehler, Smith, Joc Pederson and Julio Urias, not to mention seemingly minor depth pieces that turned their careers around and became established starters with the Dodgers like Chris Taylor and Max Muncy.