Los Angeles Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger burst onto the scene in 2017, as he began the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City but quickly showed why he was so highly regarded in the organization after being called up on April 25.
Bellinger went on to be named to the National League All-Star team, won a unanimous NL Rookie of the Year Award, and recently was named 2017 Sportsman of the Year by the Los Angeles Sports Council.
The honors and recognitions keep on coming for the 22-year-old, as ESPN’s Buster Olney recently came out with his list of the top 10 first baseman going into the 2018 season. And despite only one year of Major League experience, Bellinger placed No. 5.
The four players ranked ahead of Bellinger, in order from first to fourth, are all perennial All-Stars and MVP candidates in Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves), Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona Diamondbacks) and Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs).
In 132 games for the Dodgers, 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 in all of baseball among first basemen.
He also demonstrated tremendous athleticism on the defensive side of the ball, playing above-average defense at all three outfield positions and Gold Glove-caliber defense at his natural first base position.
The 2018 season will be an important one for Bellinger, as he will look to prove that his breakout rookie season was no fluke. Additionally, he had a taste of what winning at the highest level felt like, as he was a big reason the Dodgers reached their first World Series since 1988.
But ultimately Bellinger and the Dodgers came up short, so they have set a goal of not only returning to the Fall Classic in in 2018, but winning it this time around.