2020 Dodgers Player Projections: Cody Bellinger
A Rookie of the Year at 21 and a Most Valuable Player at 23. No big whup; it comes with the territory, right? Well no, it doesn't, and we baseball fans would be wise not to take Cody Bellinger's accomplishments for granted. Which I think is going around.
Yes, Bellinger returned to earth after hitting .400 through games of May 7 and 152 plate appearances last year. Who wouldn't? He's not that kind of hitter. The job is to produce, and that's what Bellinger does. Sure, he "slumped" to a .263/.371/.546 line in the second half, but what matters in reflection is the full season. See the 2019 mark below.
You win an MVP by hitting .335/.429/.714 in your team's wins. And by hitting .295/.397/.632 batting fourth. And by hitting .298/.444/.545 with runners in scoring position. And .314/.397/.637 in high-leverage at bats. You win an MVP -- you earn an MVP -- by hitting .295/.415/.611 as a first baseman, .291/.349/.557 as a centerfielder, .310/.415/.648 as a rightfielder and .333/.333/.667 as a pinch hitter. In one season.
The Dodgers' cleanup hitter is that good.
156 games, 661 PA, 121 R, 170 H, 34 2B, 3 3B, 47 HR, 115 RBIs, .305/.406/629, 351 TB, 8.5 bWAR.
450 G, 1595 AB, 292 R, 443 H, 88 2B, 14 3B, 111 HR, 288 RBIs, .278/.368/.559, 17.4 bWAR.
Baseball Reference projects Bellinger's 2020 season this way:
594 PA, 515 AB, 96 R, 29 2B, 4 3B, 36 HR, 94 RBI, .283/.374/.565.
Similarly, Steamer projects the following:
640 PA, 40 HR, 108 R, 85 RBI, .293/.368/.559.
My projections shake like this:
520 AB, 122 R, 144 H, 40 2B, 38 HR, 119 RBIs, .277/.372/.569.
Comment: I'd argue that in 2020 Los Angeles is asking Bellinger to play his third best position, which in order are these: first base, right field, center field.
But what are ya gonna do? Max Muncy can't play the outfield and Mookie Betts is most comfortable in right. So with that kind of responsibility it almost doesn't matter whether he meets any of the above projections. What I can tell you is that the young veteran Bellinger will do his part to get the club to where it hasn't been in over a generation -- to a fall stage in the center of the diamond where the commissioner hands over that "piece of metal."
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.