Dodgers News: Cody Bellinger ‘Enjoying’ National League MVP Race

While Cody Bellinger getting off to a blistering start this season lent to a sigh of relief for the Los Angeles Dodgers, it invariably set unrealistic expectations. Bellinger faced a similar scenario in 2017 when he earned a unanimous National League Rookie of the Year selection.

Despite confidence from Bellinger and the Dodgers that a sophomore slump would be avoided, he found himself platooning during the second half of 2018 because of the inability to hit left-handed pitching. That’s been no so such problem this year.

Bellinger not only resumed punishing same-side pitching, an overall torrid pace thrust him to the forefront of the NL MVP discussion. Bellinger remained there for much of the season but has experienced some regression through August.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts posited the NL MVP race with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich and Washington Nationals All-Star Anthony Rendon was perhaps having an impact on Bellinger.

Most glaring for the 24-year-old was a season-worst 12-game stretch without a home run. Bellinger ended the drought by clubbing a solo home run in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s loss.

“It’s nice seeing results. I’m feeling pretty good and just trying to carry that into the last stretch of the season and into the playoffs,” he said. “There’s been a lot of games. Just trying to end strong so you have good momentum going into the postseason.

“I’ve been feeling all right, just going out there and competing, doing what I can to help the team.”

With Yelich suffering a season-ending fractured kneecap, some of the initial reaction was the MVP Award suddenly became Bellinger’s to lose. Though, the two-time All-Star admitted he didn’t have any sense how Yelich’s injury would affect the race.

Yelich certainly will still receive first-place votes, and Rendon continues to put together an impressive season.

Should he win, Bellinger would be the first Dodgers position player voted MVP since Kirk Gibson in 1988. Clayton Kershaw won the award in 2014. Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe are the only players in Dodgers franchise history with Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards.

However it ultimately unfolds, Bellinger asserted there is not any added pressure. “I’m enjoying it,” he said.

“You never know when it’s going to happen again, so I’m just going out every day and doing what I can to help the team win. If it happens, it happens. A lot of other guys in this league are having great years.

“I’m just going to focus on myself and just play every day like I have been.”