Tuesday, April 26, 2022

ESPN Boldly Predicts A 5-WAR Season From Bellinger

Credit ESPN for some spicy takes, but man, this one is pretty bold:

Cody Bellinger will be a 5-WAR player for the Dodgers.

Alden Gonzalez: I don't know if we'll ever again see the Cody Bellinger who terrorized pitchers through the first half of the 2019 season, but I also don't know that we need to. Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP and amazingly one of the worst hitters in the sport in 2021, will settle into who he is this year -- a high-impact player who will at times look dominant and at times, perhaps briefly, look lost. Sunday's two-homer, two-strikeout afternoon offered a perfect snapshot. Through his first 15 games, Bellinger had four home runs, three stolen bases and a .915 OPS, but also 20 strikeouts in 60 at-bats. He brings elite power and speed, not to mention strong defense at a premium position, but he also strikes out a lot. The Dodgers will take that.

Why it's mild: We get it, Bellinger was really bad last season. But he also has an NL MVP Award and is 26 years old. Combine that with the fact that Bellinger is off to exactly the start the Dodgers were hoping he would have, as you mentioned. With that in mind, we're just not sure how much heat predicting Belli becomes Belli again actually carries.

Just as context, in last year's campaign, Max Muncy led the Dodgers with a 4.9 WAR (Mookie Betts was 4.2; Corey Seager was 3.7). Walker Buehler had a 6.6 WAR to lead pitchers, but Bellinger isn't compared against pitchers.

In the World Series championship 2020 season, Betts led the Dodgers with a 3.6 WAR. I suppose that number would be a lot higher spread over a 162-game season, but that would assume Betts' pace could be maintained that long.

In 2017, Justin Turner had a 5.6 WAR and Seager had a 5.3 WAR. Bellinger was a 3.9 WAR.

To be fair, Bellinger had a 8.6 WAR in 2019, his MVP year. Could he get to 5 WAR in 2022? Seems a little bold.

Oh, and old friend Manny Machado leads the majors in WAR as of today, with a 1.7.

photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press