NL MVP Race 2019: Cody Bellinger

By: Tim Sever

The Los Angeles Dodgers put together another astounding season in 2019, capturing their seventh straight National League West division title, while ultimately falling short in the playoffs. With a combination of young potential and veteran leadership, Los Angeles is one of the best-positioned teams in the Major Leagues to contend for titles in the future. No player better exemplifies this promising present and future than star outfielder Cody Bellinger. He has been nothing short of stellar thus far into his career, and if this year is any indication, he will be a premier player in this league for a long time.

Bellinger started this season on an absolute tear, batting in the high .300s early on in the season. At one point, he was in the midst of a ten-game hitting streak, and his average managed to drop from .394 to .376. While his batting average has dipped to .305 at the end of the year, Bellinger’s season is nothing short of historic. Offensively, he has been an absolute monster. Bellinger is the top ten in a variety of major categories such as batting average, home runs, runs batted in, walks, slugging percentage, and so on. Bellinger is a leader in almost every major batting statistic. Bellinger slashed .305/.406/.629, which is arguably more impressive than Christian Yelich’s 2018 MVP campaign season of .326/.402/.598. Summing up the OBP and SLG gives Bellinger an OPS of 1.035, trailing only the injured Christian Yelich. Bellinger has proven to have a rare blend of being able to hit for power and average. His 47 home-runs ranked third in the National League behind Pete Alonso and Eugenio Suarez, both of who hit more than 30 points below Bellinger batting average. Given Bellinger’s combination of power and average make a compelling case for him to win his first National League Most Valuable Player award.

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I compiled the last ten (position player) NL Most Valuable Player Award winners’ major offensive statistics (BA, SLG, OBP, HR, RBI, SB, and Baseball Reference’s WAR). I then compared the statistics of Cody Bellinger, Anthony Rendon, and Christian Yelich to these averages. I found that both Bellinger and Yelich surpassed five of the seven criteria while Rendon only surpassed one. Bellinger falls about 17 points off of the usual batting average for an MVP and also 10 points below the slugging percentage. Comparably, Yelich misses the RBI mark by 23 while also falling short of the WAR mark by 1.1. In fact, none of the past ten NL MVP winners have had a WAR as low as Yelich’s, an important statistic. Bellinger’s WAR of 9, on the other hand, would be the third-highest out of the past ten MVPs, a tremendous feat. WAR is arguably the most valuable statistic as well since it measures the value of a player in added wins for his team, which is the name of the game. Bellinger has a clear edge on Rendon in terms of offense, and further distinguishes himself from Yelich in the field.

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