Chase Utley got an up-close look at Cody Bellinger during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Those two years spent together as Los Angeles Dodgers teammates marked Bellinger’s arrival in the Major Leagues and the close of Utley’s career.
Utley retired after 2018 but remains with the Dodgers in a special assistant role. He has been praised by several the organization’s younger players for setting an example for them, and enjoys particularly close relationships with Kiké Hernandez and Corey Seager.
Additionally, Utley and Bellinger are now tied together in the MLB record books thanks to the latter’s white-hot start to the 2019 season. Bellinger broke multiple records for the first month of a season, including total bases before May 1.
That record previously belonged to Utley, who recorded 84 total bases to start the 2008 season with the Philadelphia Phillies. Bellinger broke it with a home run on against the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, and it also gave the Dodgers the MLB record for most consecutive home games with a home run.
When asked if Bellinger’s white-hot 2019 so far surprised him, Utley was quick to praise his former teammate, via SportsNet LA:
“I’m not surprised. I’m not. That rookie season was pretty special. But now just watching his at-bats, he looks so much more comfortable in the batter’s box. It seems like he has a plan at the plate when he’s facing certain pitchers, and he’s making it look really easy.
Utley was hardly the first to note the improvements Bellinger has made at the plate. When recently discussing the slugger’s prolific start, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts noted the
consistency in approach and work ethic, and used that as reasons Bellinger could avoid a significant regression to the mean.
In addition to breaking multiple MLB and Dodgers records, Bellinger was named the National League Player of the Month for April. It’s his first time receiving the honor and the Dodgers’ first player to earn monthly recognition since Justin Turner in August 2018.
Bellinger enters play Friday leading the Majors in runs, hits, batting average, on-base percentage, on-base plus slugging, OPS+, total bases, wOBA and wRC+. His 14 home runs are tied with Milwaukee Brewers right fielder and reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich for the MLB lead.