LOS ANGELES -- Leading the National League in home runs and recording multihomer games way faster than any player in history has put Cody Bellinger in the spotlight.Bellinger went yard for the 23rd and 24th times on Sunday during the Dodgers' 12-6 come-from-behind win against the Rockies. It was his
LOS ANGELES -- Leading the National League in home runs and recording multihomer games way faster than any player in history has put Cody Bellinger in the spotlight.
Bellinger went yard for the 23rd and 24th times on Sunday during the Dodgers' 12-6 come-from-behind win against the Rockies. It was his 57th career game and the sixth time he has homered twice. Previously, the fastest player to record six multihomer games was Mark McGwire, who accomplished the feat in his 97th game in 1987.
Before Bellinger, the closest anyone had come to McGwire's record was the D-backs' Yasmany Tomas, who reached six multihomer games last season in his 212th game. Next on the list? Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who needed 239 games.
With so many accolades so early in his career, it's understandable that Bellinger's bat gets all the attention, but his value as a defender should not be overlooked, and he provided a perfect example in the seventh inning on Sunday.
Playing right field for the first time in the big leagues, the 21-year-old chased down a Pat Valaika fly ball that would have added to the Rockies' 6-4 lead had it dropped, but Bellinger raced over to right-center to rob Valaika of a single and shut down any Rockies' scoring chance.
"It's easy to look at the slugging and the production," manager Dave Roberts said. "You see him on the bases and you see him making plays at first base, initially when he came up here he was making great plays in left field. Today he made a great play, went a long way on that ball. To be able to put him anywhere and be a plus defender, it's a huge luxury."
Bellinger's diving snag had a 35 percent catch probability, as Statcast™ tracked him covering 71 feet in 4.2 seconds.
Roberts lauded another overlooked tool of Bellinger's is his speed, which he used the first inning to leg out a two-out single.
"Those are things," Roberts said. "You see the home runs, but those are the little things that extend innings. He puts a ball on the ground, beats a throw and extends the inning. Those are the little things we talk about."
For Bellinger, he'll stay level-headed with his success with a little help from Dodger great Manny Mota.
"I'm going to come in tomorrow like this didn't happen," Bellinger said. "Manny Mota comes in every day to remind me I already got paid for yesterday."
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.