What can you say about Cody Bellinger other than he’s real and he’s spectacular.
The Los Angeles Dodgers rookie slugged two more home runs in a crazy 12-6 win over the Colorado Rockies — don’t worry, we’ll get to all those wild pitches in a moment — and is up to 24 on the season, already a National League record for home runs by a rookie before the All-Star break, with 13 games still remaining. He has been performing feats of strength almost every day, it seems.
Bellinger’s first home run Sunday came against Tyler Anderson in the third inning, when he hammered an 0-1 fastball to right-center field for a two-run shot. His second homer came in the eighth inning off Adam Ottavino, a two-run shot to right off a 1-0 fastball that gave the Dodgers an 11-6 lead.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) June 26, 2017
That was his sixth multihomer game, most in the majors. You might think he’s a rookie who is feasting on fastballs, but he has actually fared better against offspeed stuff:
Fastballs: .236/.306/.545, HR each 12.22 ABs
Offspeed: .310/.351/.851, HR each 6.69 ABs
It will be interesting to see how pitchers adjust and attack Bellinger. One option would be to throw him more fastballs on the inside part of the plate, since he’s hitting .176/.200/.412 on inside fastballs, but those stats have come in only 35 plate appearances, and commanding the pitch on the inside part of the zone is a difficult assignment for many pitchers.
Of course, there is more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations. Sometimes you just have to say a guy like Bellinger is a very bad man. A very bad man. After all, consider this list of most home runs by a rookie in the first half:
1. Mark McGwire, 1987 A’s: 33 in 80 games
2. Jose Abreu, 2014 White Sox: 29 in 82 games
3. Aaron Judge, 2017 Yankees: 26 in 71 games
4. Al Rosen*, 1950 Indians: 25 in 78 games
5. Cody Bellinger, 2017 Dodgers: 24 in 57 games
6. Jose Canseco, 1986 A’s: 23 in 90 games
(*Rosen was a rookie by today’s standards, but not in 1950)
By the way, you might have seen the story from earlier in the weekend when it was discovered Bellinger didn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld was and his teammates gave him a hard time about it.
But why should he know? He’s 21 years old. He was 3 years old when “Seinfeld” went off the air in 1998. What has Seinfeld done since the show ended? He hasn’t exactly remained in the pop culture zeitgeist, unless you’re up late watching re-runs on TBS. If Bellinger was up that late growing up, he was probably watching hitting videos on YouTube and definitely not double-dipping on his screen time. So let’s cut the kid some slack and hope Bellinger keeps on hitting home runs. Here’s to feeling good all the time.
Now, about those wild pitches
The Dodgers were down 5-0 and won by six runs, the first time they trailed by five runs and won by at least five runs since 1951. But how that happened for their 10th win in a row was one of the craziest things we’ve witnessed in a game all season — or any season. They scored five consecutive runs at one point on four wild pitches — all thrown by Ottavino. The play-by-play:
Seventh inning — Forsythe and Barnes score on wild pitch.
Eighth inning — Taylor scores on wild pitch.
Ottavino would then serve up the homer to Bellinger. His line for the day: 1 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 4 WP. His ERA rose from 3.08 to 4.94. That’s the first time a team scored five runs on wild pitches in a game, and the Dodgers became just the sixth team of the wild-card era to score five runs without an RBI. The Marlins were the last to do it, beating the Phillies 6-1 on April 22, 2015, with one run scoring on an error by the pitcher, another on a balk and three on a dropped fly ball in the outfield.
This continues a tough stretch for the Rockies, who have now dropped five in a row to the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. A particularly brutal trip through the rotation yielded 31 runs in 20⅓ innings in those five games.
Twins sweep Indians
From the files of You Can’t Predict Baseball, the Twins went into Cleveland and won 5-0, 4-2 and 4-0 to move back into first place. Ervin Santana tossed six shutout innings on Sunday, with Buddy Boshers and Brandon Kintzler throwing three hitless innings of relief. The Indians went 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position in the series. So, good job, Twins!
Still not buying the Twins? I get that. The rest of this 11-game road trip will tell us more about them, as they have four games in Boston, then four in Kansas City. They’ve also played Cleveland 13 times already, so they have only six games remaining against their toughest division rival (by contrast, they have 13 games against Detroit).
Look, there are some definite smoke-and-mirrors here, as the Twins have a minus-38 run differential while the Indians are plus-45. But those games are in the book. The Twins won’t be able to keep winning with a negative run differential, but if they can add some depth to the pitching staff — maybe a starter, maybe a bullpen arm or two — you never know.
Giancarlo Stanton to defend Home Run Derby title
First, Stanton hit this laser beam of a home run, his 20th of the season, to help the Marlins to a 4-2 win over the Cubs. Then, he announced he’ll be defending his Home Run Derby title at his home park, and everybody on Twitter was very happy. You’re up, Mr. Judge.
— MLB Stat of the Day (@MLBStatoftheDay) June 25, 2017
Home run trot of the day
Adam Rosales of the A’s, not to be confused with David Ortiz:
Run, @arosie7, run!
— #Statcast (@statcast) June 25, 2017
Tim Tebow promoted
Don’t be a hater. Yes, the Mets promoted Tebow from low-A Columbia to high-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League. Yes, he was hitting just .222 with three home runs in 212 at-bats. “It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time, all of the indications are positive in terms of various things we look at: chase rates and exit velocity,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving.”
Pretty impressive, Tebow made it out of the South Atlantic League nine games faster than Bryce Harper
— Sam Miller (@SamMillerBB) June 25, 2017
The Heisman winner remains a huge long shot to reach the majors, but the Mets like the work ethic he sets for his younger teammates. Exposing that ethic to another group of teammates make sense. Sure, the whole thing remains a nice publicity stunt, but Tebow hasn’t embarrassed himself, and there are other things to get more worked up about. Like puffy shirts.