Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. Today we’re going to talk about my Dodgers… and about “Cody Bellinger’s Shadow.“
Cody Bellinger’s Shadow
So, if you follow baseball at all, then you’ve probably heard of Cody Bellinger. After his breakout rookie year in 2017, he regressed slightly in 2018 (but was still very good!)
Now in 2019, people were wondering which Cody Bellinger is the real one, the breakout Rookie of the Year or the “good” major leaguer?
So far in 2019, it seems like that everyone was wrong. I think Orel Hershiser said that in video games where you can “make your own player”, there is no need to do that — just pick Cody Bellinger.
He’s actually not too far off.
Cody Bellinger has been basically doing it all this year. He leads or is 2nd in just about all offensive categories and is a legitimate Triple Crown threat. On the defensive end, he’s playing a Gold Glove right field with his elite speed and +++ arm/accuracy. Also, his speed on the basepaths (and in in the outfield) is pretty ridiculous.
Case in point:
He hit a home run off of Jacob Degrom (last year’s Cy Young Winner) and then he threw out two people, one at home and one at 3rd base.
Long story short, Cody Bellinger is probably the most fun-to-watch player in the National League and perhaps even all of the majors. I would be surprised if the Dodgers don’t try to lock him down with at least a 5 year extension sooner rather than later. However, I’m not the Dodgers front office, I just know what I, as a fan, would want.
But enough about Cody Bellinger…
Make no mistake, Cody deserves all the hype and press he’s been receiving lately. However, his star looms so large that he tends to overshadow the rest of the Dodgers team Baseball is a team game, and one superstar can’t carry a team by themselves.
So let’s talk about “everyone else”.
Joc is a right-handed killer. His 15 home runs against right-handers is even more impressive when you account for the fact that he doesn’t really play against left handers at all meaning his home runs per plate appearance is 2nd in the National League, only to Christian Yelich.
I think on most other teams, Joc would be an everyday player regardless of splits. In truth, I think he does “ok” against left-handers but when you’re a team as deep as the Dodgers, it makes the most sense to platoon him. Previously, I think he took that personally, but now I think he’s accepted his role as a platoon and understands that he’ll start against right handers and sit against left-handers. Then later in the game, he’ll probably get a pinch hit opportunity.
All that said, without Joc, there would be a lot less runs on the board and a lot more losses.
Justin Turner is always a threat in any count. I think he’s probably the best two-strike hitter in baseball right now. He doesn’t strike out much and is on base all the time. I really don’t worry about Justin when it comes to production, he’s not just a major league ballplayer — he’s a professional hitter and a model for consistency. There may be a few 0-4 days, but they’re pretty rare and then once in awhile you go 5-5 with a walk.
Either way, he gets on a base and is always a threat. His defense at 3rd base is pretty great as well.
Without Justin Turner grinding out at bats and getting on base and generally just being a terror to pitchers — there would be a lot more starting pitchers going into the later innings against the Dodgers, and likely more losses.
I think everyone knows how I feel about Max. He’s the guy that shows up to games day in and day out. He’ll get his walks and his hits and he’ll homer once in awhile and people will think, oh yea, he’s a decent player.
Then the year will be over and he’ll have a .250+ average, 30+ home runs, and 100+ RBIs —- that’s not decent, that’s really good!
2018 was not a fluke, and I’ve never thought it was. 2019 might be more “in line” with what Max can do on a regular basis, but there will be up years and down years. The question is are 2018 and 2019 his “up years” or his “down years”. How good is Max going to get?
The other thing that doesn’t get enough attention is the fact that Max really grinds pitchers. Him and Justin Turner really just make pitchers work so hard.
Case in point:
The TL;DR is that Max had a 12 pitch at bat and walked which brought the starter’s pitch count up allowing the guys behind him to drive in 3 runs. Stuff like that doesn’t show up in the statistics, and only people who watched the game and the at-bat will see it.
Like Cody, I hope they give my boy Max a reasonable extension before he hits free agency. I think he’d like to stay with the team that gave him his last chance — and I’d want him to stay too.
Also, he really took to heart people saying that he wasn’t great defensively and has really worked hard on that aspect of his game. Like This:
“Don’t let the kid get hot!”
It’s too late. The kid is already hot.
After AJ Pollock was out with an injury, Alex Verdugo has settled in and is doing a good job with quality at bats and great defense. Like Justin and Max he grinds out his at bats and doesn’t strike out very much. He seems to love to hit the ball into the left-center gap and that’s what he aims for when he goes to the plate. Although sometimes you see him try to pull the ball a bit down the line.
He’s a Rookie of the Year candidate for sure. However, there are a lot of great rookies in the NL this year, so it might be tough to win it. If you think about it though, the Dodgers have had RoY candidates the last 4 years. Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, and now Alex Verdugo — talk about depth.
When AJ Pollock comes back from his injury, I expect Alex’s time to go down some, but I would hope they would at least let him split some time with AJ Pollock.
Corey Seager, David Freese, Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez
Corey is still trying to find his swing against after a year away, but he’s always a threat at the plate. He just needs a little more time to catch fire I think.
David Freese, Chris Taylor, and Kike Hernandez are all threats as well. David Freese is very consistent regardless of the score or the situation. Chris Taylor struggled a bit early on, but I think he’s settled in as well. Even though Kike has been having some frustration and struggles at the plate lately, I think he’ll be fine. Obviously his defensive ability is off the charts as a super-utility player.
I’ll also add that Matt Beaty has had really good at-bats so far in the majors, getting some hits or making good contact.
Russell Martin and Austin Barnes
These guys have been great together and I think they really mesh well as the two catchers sharing the duties. Russell Martin is a true veteran with so much experience to share and Austin Barnes is eager to learn.
I’ll briefly mention Will Smith here too, who did a great job in his first major league game. He will learn a lot from Russell and Austin. Things are looking good here and his arm/accuracy is elite.
Also, my boy Muncy with the catch and quick swipe tag.
This really deserves its own blog post, but the Dodgers starters have been nothing short of fantastic. Hyun-Jin Ryu has been masterful so far this season and as long as he doesn’t get hurt I think this will be a very special season for him (and us). Clayton Kershaw continues to give his expected quality starts and go 6+ innings. Even when his stuff isn’t perfect, he can still eat innings and limit damage. Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill are also doing a great job going deep into games and keeping the runs low.
I want to be positive about the bullpen, but the truth of the matter is that they’ve been having a rough time. Unfortunately, Joe Kelly has been the face of the bullpen and has been having a hard time getting out of this funk.
However, I think he just needs a little more time. The guy has +++ stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to transition to a new team and have a new (big) contract weighing on you to perform. That said, I think there’ll be a return to form, and I hope the team is patient with him. I think he needs to understand that he doesn’t have to necessarily go for corner stuff, but maybe just quadrants. The dude throws a 99 mph fastball with the fastest and most compact delivery I’ve ever seen. I think he’ll return to his elite form. We’re definitely going to need his +++ stuff in the postseason.
Kenley Jansen is still doing what he does as our closer. He’s had a few blown saves and given up some runs recently, but his cut fastball is still one of the best around, even if the velocity is down a bit. Maybe he won’t miss bats as much anymore, but as long as it misses the barrel and gives off weak contact — that’s just fine.
Cody Bellinger casts a large shadow.
I’ve done my best to talk about the rest of the people on the Dodgers.
I hope they win today.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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Whatever Wednesday is the best esp when you talk about Dodgers! ???