‘M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!’: A look inside Cody Bellinger’s breakthrough

The absurdity of Cody Bellinger’s ascendant season reached what felt like an apex on the night of May 27, when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ budding superstar came to bat for the fifth time. Moments earlier, in the top of the eighth inning, Bellinger thwarted a New York Mets rally by making a catch in deep right field and uncorking a 300-foot throw that resulted in his seventh outfield assist. Seven innings before that, he recorded his sixth outfield assist, cutting down a runner at the plate. Two innings after that, he blasted his 19th home run in his 52nd game of the season.

And so as he strolled toward home plate with one out and none on in the bottom of the eighth, a Dodger Stadium crowd of 47,816 filled the air with a rightful chant.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

But in this instance, the moment grabbed him. He had to step away from the batter’s box, just as he was beginning to settle in. He had to gather himself. The “MVP” chants, he acknowledged, got in his head. They made him break character.

“I mean, it’s the first time I’ve heard it,” Bellinger said a few days later. “I have no idea how it is that you shoot free throws like Steph Curry when they’re chanting it, but hitting a baseball is so hard that you can’t really think about that stuff.”2

Bellinger had compiled a major league-best 4.7 FanGraphs wins above replacement (WAR) heading into Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a mark that was topped by only 37 players through the entire 2018 season.

His .374 batting average and .734 slugging percentage rank first in baseball. His .461 on-base percentage trails only Mike Trout, who constantly gets pitched around. His 20 home runs trail just Christian Yelich, perhaps the only man who can give him competition for the MVP.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

The most impressive aspect, according to Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, is “how it all started.”

“It all started after a disappointing season,” Jansen said of Bellinger. “That’s what I like about it. A lot of things can go wrong in the offseason. Like, which way is he going to go? Are you going to go about it the right way? He took it like a humbling experience and put that work in, in the offseason, and, I mean, he’s one of the best players on the planet right now. That’s pretty impressive. One offseason, and he’s taking us on this joyride.”

Bellinger wasn’t bad last year, but he wasn’t great. He was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 2017, then suffered a mild case of the proverbial sophomore slump in 2018, his OPS dropping by 119 points. He felt lost early and was thrust into a platoon role late, sitting against left-handed pitchers. Then he went to work.