The Los Angeles Dodgers saw their 2019 season come to a disappointing end as they failed to advance past the National League Division Series for the first time since 2015. Much of the blame has been placed on manager Dave Roberts, who is expected to return in 2020.
While Roberts’ decision-making in a decisive Game 5 loss certainly warrants shouldering responsibility for the Dodgers being eliminated, so too does the lack of production from the likes of Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager, among others.
For Bellinger, it dampened what otherwise was a remarkable year. He bounced back from a bit of a sophomore slump to lead the Majors in several categories heading into the All-Star break.
That put Bellinger in the thick of the NL MVP discussion, which Roberts recently argued should go to his multi-faceted All-Star, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I do think Cody should win the National League MVP. You’re talking about the best player on the best team in the National League. That encompasses in the batter’s box, the runs scored, the runs driven in, the homers, the impact that he has. Defensively, he is going to win the Gold Glove in right field this year — could have won it at first base, center field. The versatility he provides is very valuable — in the sense of that award, ‘Valuable.’ So for the best team in the National League, to give us that value of other players playing, giving them opportunities, giving me flexibility to manage and club and our roster, again, has a lot of value from the Most Valuable Player in the National League.”
Though Bellinger once appeared to be a lock for NL MVP, a slump in August opened the door for Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. Yelich won the award last season.
While Yelich had an impressive 2019 campaign himself, it ended prematurely because of a fractured kneecap. He nonetheless will still receive first-place votes, if not perhaps win MVP for a second consecutive year.
Should he win, Bellinger would become the first Dodgers position player voted MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988. Clayton Kershaw won the award in 2014. Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe are the only players in Dodgers franchise history to win Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards.
Although there was a sense the MVP race was taking its toll on Bellinger, he regularly denied that being the case. “I’m enjoying it,” Bellinger said last month.
“You never know when it’s going to happen again, so I’m just going out every day and doing what I can to help the team win. If it happens, it happens. A lot of other guys in this league are having great years.”
Voting for MVP and other Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) awards was completed by Oct. 1.