LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers already boast the reigning National League Rookie of the Year on their roster in Corey Seager -- and with Cody Bellinger, they might have the 2017 favorite for the award.Saturday night's 10-6 loss to Miami marked the first time Bellinger held down the No. 3 spot
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers already boast the reigning National League Rookie of the Year on their roster in Corey Seager -- and with Cody Bellinger, they might have the 2017 favorite for the award.
Saturday night's 10-6 loss to Miami marked the first time Bellinger held down the No. 3 spot for Los Angeles, as the team looks for someone to replace the production usually generated in that slot by injured slugger Justin Turner. The 21-year-old adapted to the role with aplomb, going 2-for-4 and homering for the second consecutive night.
"I'm not worried about Cody as far as his head and where he hits in the order," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "He's put together very good at-bats and I think he's earned [that spot]."
Bellinger's solo shot in the seventh inning off Marlins reliever Jarlin Garcia made him the fastest Dodgers player in history to reach nine home runs (24 games). He's now tied with Pittsburgh's Josh Bell for the NL lead in homers among rookies, despite having 50 fewer at-bats than Bell. He's also pacing NL rookies (minimum 90 plate appearances) in batting average (.300), on-base percentage (.370), slugging percentage (.678), runs scored (20) and RBIs (24).
Though Bellinger came into the season ranked as the consensus No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers' system, many expected his first stint in the big leagues to be a short one -- a cup of coffee in relief for Los Angeles' injured regulars. But it'd be a shock to see him demoted now, as he's the team leader in home runs and a versatile lefty who can play at first base or in the outfield.
"I didn't know what to expect coming up. I was just trying to be a spark and help win some games," Bellinger said. "Wherever they need me, I'll be, defensively or offensively. But it was pretty cool [to hit in the No. 3 spot]."
Bellinger's bomb on Saturday was arguably the highlight of the night for the Dodgers. It cut Miami's lead to four runs, represented the peak of Los Angeles' late-inning rally and seemed to elicit the night's largest roar from the home crowd. It inspired hope in a stadium that was completely devoid of it just a couple of innings earlier when the score was 10-0.
And, fittingly, it represented the latter half of a back-to-back home run string with Seager. It might not be the only way Bellinger follows in Seager's footsteps this season.
Will Laws is a contributor to MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Dodgers on Saturday.