Cody Bellinger is quite an overachiever.
Then just 21 years old, Bellinger headed to Triple-A Oklahoma City out of spring training with modest goals for the 2017 season.
“A September call-up,” he said later. “That was the goal in spring training. Obviously I wanted to be up here earlier. But to be honest, the team that we had I just didn’t think there was a chance. Everything else that came this year has been crazy.”
That craziness was capped Monday when Bellinger was named the National League Rookie of the Year. The Dodgers first baseman-outfielder becomes the 18th player in franchise history to win the ROY, following immediately on the heels of 2016 winner, shortstop Corey Seager.
Like Seager, Bellinger was a unanimous choice, receiving all 30 votes in the NL balloting. He is the 13th National League player to win the award unanimously.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was also a unanimous choice as the American League Rookie of the Year. It is the fourth time in the awards history that the winner in both leagues was a unanimous selection.
Bellinger’s call to the big leagues came much earlier than September. He made his major-league debut on April 25 in San Francisco after outfielder Joc Pederson went on the DL with a groin injury.
At the time, the Dodgers were 9-11. With Bellinger in their starting lineup, the Dodgers went 89-38 the rest of the way.
Bellinger bounced between the outfield and first base for awhile before taking over from injured veteran Adrian Gonzalez at first base. By the All-Star break, he had established himself as one of the league’s top power hitters. Bellinger made the NL All-Star team by the player vote, becoming the youngest position player in Dodgers history to make the All-Star team.
“I think the veterans on the team have helped him immensely – how to go about preparing and how to handle success, struggles, how to handle this market, how to handle being a major-league player,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“Cody himself is really – in his make-up, his DNA – just is really even-keeled, and he knows he belongs here, and knew that early on. He has the talent.”
Bellinger broke the National League record for home runs, finishing with 39. He led the Dodgers in home runs, RBI (97), runs scored (87), slugging percentage (.581) and total bases (279) despite spending the first 20 games in the minors.
He is the first rookie to lead a 100-win team in both home runs and RBI.