Los Angeles

Dodgers' Cody Bellinger Just Had One of the Best Starts in MLB History and Here are the Numbers That Back it Up

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger is breaking MLB records at a historic rate, but what's behind his hot start to the season, and can he sustain it?

As millions of Americans turn the calendar to May, there's a 23-year-old kid in Los Angeles who wouldn't mind if we stayed in April.

Dodgers' slugger Cody Bellinger is off to one of the best starts in baseball history, and now that April is over, it's time we see where this wunderkind ranks within the Pantheon of the game's all-time best.

By now, you've heard about all the records he's reached, broken, and outright shattered through the first 30 games of the season. If you haven't, we'll recap you in a second, but first tell us if you've heard of these names before:

Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez.

Chances are you've heard of at least a few on that list. If so, you should know that Bellinger has bested them all through March and April, and currently finds himself in an airspace so far higher than these gods of baseball's past, that he's entered a stratosphere all his own.

Bellinger has more total bases (97), than Babe Ruth had at this time when he broke the single-season record (457) in 1921.

Bellinger has more hits (47), than Ichiro Suzuki had at this time when he broke the record for most hits in a single-season (262) in 2004.


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

Hold on to your hats! Return of Santa Ana winds prompt red flag warning in SoCal

‘I remember floating': Lakewood crossing guard loses leg in crash while working

Bellinger has more RBI (37), than Hack Wilson had at this time when he broke the single-season record for most RBI (191) in 1930.

Bellinger has more home runs (14), than Barry Bonds did at this time when he broke the single-season record for homers (73) in 2001.

Sure, those are all-time baseball records that Bellinger is far from breaking yet, and it's a bit of reach to say that just because he's on pace to shatter them all, doesn't mean he actually will over the course of the marathon 162-game season.

This is not a coronation of "King Cody," ruler of the seven kingdoms. Nor is he stealthily sneaking up on the league with these stats. No, make no mistake about it, Bellinger is a battle tank bulldozing his way into the record books and putting baseball on notice in the process.

Even if he's unable to topple those baseball titans mentioned above, Bellinger has already catapulted himself into history with his meteoric start to the season. 

Bellinger tied Pujols, Rodriguez, and reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich for the most home runs before the month of May with 14. 

Bellinger tied Bryce Harper's 2017 record with the most runs scored before the month of May with 32.

Bellinger broke Alfonso Soriano's 2003 record for the most hits before the month of May with 47.

He broke former Dodger hitting coach, Mark McGwire's 1998 record for the most RBI before the month of May with 37.

And, finally, Bellinger absolutely obliterated former teammate Chase Utley's 2008 record of total bases (85) before the month of May with 97. 

Still not impressed?

Bellinger has reached base safely in every single game he's started this season, and he currently leads the National League in 25 different statistical categories.

Yes, you read that correctly, 25 different categories, and he currently leads the Major Leagues in 17. 

"It's fun for sure," said a smiling Bellinger of all the records he's broken and his blistering start to the season. "I don't see it [the hoopla], so it makes it easy."

Bellinger ends the month of April batting .431/.508/.890, with 47 hits, 37 RBI, 32 runs, 14 home runs, and 19 walks. If the season ended today, Bellinger would become the first National League Triple Crown winner since Joe Medwick in 1937.

"Whether it's lefty or it's righty, there's a time to get big and try to go for the big homer, or to drive the baseball, and there's also a time to use another club," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts about his star player. "And right now, Cody has different clubs,"

Golf analogies aside, you might be asking yourself: 'what's behind all this newfound success?'

A new bat, tighter batting gloves, LASIK? 

Nope. None of those things.

Bellinger's terrific third season as a pro has come courtesy of a mechanical adjustment to his swing. A difference that has seen his strikeout rate drop in half from last season from 25 percent to 11.4 percent, one of the steepest year-to-year declines (-13.6 percent) in history.

"I think I found out what I couldn't do last year, and I was able to just throw that away," said Bellinger. "Rob [Van Scoyoc] and Brownie [Brant Brown] have done a good job of keeping me where I'm at. They've done a great job for me. They're smart, and they give me little advice that they think is going to help, and I work with it in the cage, and if it works great, and if it doesn't you just throw it away. They're smart people."

The geniuses that Bellinger credits for his success are new Dodgers' hitting coaches Robert Van Scoyoc, Brant Brown, and Aaron Bates. Three cutting edge swing gurus who helped originate the new era of the "launch angle." Bellinger credits this trio for correcting his posture and allowing him to understand his swing on a deeper level.

"They've helped me to understand how to use your swing," said Bellinger. "There wasn't just one thing. There was a lot of things they did to turn it into what it is now. If they had put pizza on the tee, it would have been even better."

Bellinger now stands more upright in the batter's box, and keeps his torso square, allowing him to keep his bat in the zone longer, and his swing to have the same impact it did early in his 2017 rookie campaign that saw Bellinger win the Rookie of the Year Award.

"Every day before the game, I know what I want to do [at the plate], and the days I feel off, it's why am I feeling like that and how do I get back to where I was," he said.

The odds of Bellinger maintaining such a torrid pace are unlikely. Regression is imminent, but if he simply plays half as good as he is now, he's destined for an MVP campaign the likes that fans in Los Angeles haven't seen since Steve Garvey in 1974 or Kirk Gibson in 1988, the last time the Dodgers won the World Series.

"I honestly don't feel any pressure to sustain this pace," said Bellinger. "We have a lineup that's really good, so if I'm not going to get it done, than I know someone else will. That makes it easier to just stay within myself every day."

Contact Us