Dodgers: Looking at Cody Bellinger’s NL MVP Competition

Cody Bellinger. Christian Yelich. Ronald Acuña Jr.. Ketel Marte. Anthony Rendon.

Those remaining in the NL MVP race are a potent bunch. Does Cody Bellinger have the upper hand? Does he have enough left in the tank to make a late push if he doesn’t?

Here is a breakdown of the top five in the NL MVP race — in my opinion — and who Cody Bellinger leads and trails.

1. Christian Yelich

At the beginning of the season, it appeared to be a two-horse race between Cody Bellinger and the Brewers’ outfielder Christian Yelich. Now, it appears that Yelich has the upper hand with just one month remaining in the regular season.

Yelich currently leads Bellinger in nearly every offensive category that matters and has leap-frogged him in wins above replacement (WAR) in recent weeks.

On the season, Yelich holds a .330 batting average, 1.103 on-base plus slugging percentage, and 173 wRC+. He has even chipped in an elite 7.6 WAR. He has even added 30 stolen bases while only being caught twice. Phenomenal.

While his defense certainly lags behind Bellinger’s — -4 outs above average (OAA) to Bellinger with 7 in limited time — Yelich may have enough of an offensive lead over Bellinger to take the crown. Factor that in with voters typically negating defensive value, Yelich might be the slam-dunk candidate with a small fraction of time remaining this season.

2. Cody Bellinger

Bellinger’s start to the 2019 campaign was extraordinary and that is most definitely an understatement. You simply cannot even put it into words. Through two months to start the season, the 24-year-old Bellinger posted an astronomical 205 wRC+ and .379/.465/.749 slash line. He was incredible.

Since June began, however, his numbers have expectedly dipped. He has since slashed .256/.373/.569 with a 137 wRC+. Those are still fantastic numbers, but in comparison, Yelich has slashed .344/.435/.659 with a 175 wRC+ in that same span. Yelich stayed consistent while Bellinger ‘swayed’.

Overall, Bellinger has slashed .306/.410/.642, posted a 165 wRC+, and has accumulated 7.3 WAR.

Regardless, Bellinger has had an amazing season. There just might not be enough there for him to surpass Yelich, notwithstanding an astronomical slip from Yelich.

3. Anthony Rendon

Possibly the most underrated player in the majors for a few seasons running, Rendon is finally getting some recognition.

In 2019, Rendon has pushed a phenomenal .337/.417/.630 slash line, 162 wRC+, and 6.8 WAR. He has been outright dominant at the plate.

In a field of fierce competitors, Rendon fits right into the top tier along with Yelich and Bellinger. There is an outside chance Rendon gets some love above Bellinger based off of his batting average — something voters tend to prioritize — alone.

4. Ketel Marte

Ketel Marte has been one of the biggest stories of improvement this season and has placed his name firmly in the MVP conversation with his play and by helping the Arizona Diamondbacks get into the Wild Card race.

Marte holds a .330/.390/.599 slash line and 151 wRC+ on the season. He has also chipped in a 6.9 WAR and 8 DRS in center field.

He certainly tops other contenders like Acuña Jr. and Alonso and might not be as far behind Bellinger as you think.

5. Ronald Acuña Jr.

Possibly the most dynamic athlete in the majors not named Mike Trout, Acuña Jr. silenced the sophomore slump and has been almost good this season as in 2018.

On the season, Acuña has posted a .280/.364/.515 slash line and 123 wRC+ in his chase for a 40-40 season. He currently has 38 home runs and 34 stolen bases under his belt. Those numbers all do look nice and it is a fantastic season when also weighing in his 4.9 WAR mark, but he simply does not stack up to Yelich nor Bellinger.

Acuña should garner a handful of third place votes, but he has a fairly low chance of being the MVP or the runner-up for that matter.


Yes, I do not have Cody Bellinger as the current MVP of the National League. I strongly believe he is not. While his season has been one for the ages, the 2019 campaign of Christian Yelich has been even more impressive which is crazy to say.

Regardless of if Bellinger takes home the honor or not, he has been phenomenal and should continue to be for the next decade and then some.

Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 19 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.


  1. Unfortunately since the All-Star break Cody has just been average at best. He will still wind up with a fantastic year, but on individual performances a half dozen players have out shined him. Still it’s all about the team so who knows?

  2. It’s Bellingers own fault. He reverted back instead of remembering what made him successful in the first half and apparently there were several discussions with him but it didn’t get through to him. Perhaps he’s trying to pass Shawn Green at the cost of everything else

  3. Second half cost him MVP. No longer should he be in that conversation unless he goes crazy the next few weeks. Stop trying to hit HRS.cut down on your swing. Batting coaches need to work with him more. Team is suffering because he is not hitting!! Maybe move him down the order were there is less pressure?

  4. Cody is very talented, but it is true ,when trying to hit and just make contact he was doing great, everything fell into place average ,hits , etc. as was said by many he left that strategy in the first half, just not the same hitter not using his smarts for whatever reason still a very good ballplayer.Cody get back in the groove .

  5. As of today, Cody is at 8.2 WAR and Yelich is at 7.1. If the season ended today, it would be very close and I think Cody eeks it out. 2 reasons. #1, The Dodgers are in the playoffs and when this article was written, we had 1 game to clinch the west. Milwaukee likely will be outside looking in. Now tonight the odds on Yelich just got longer. He is now out for the season. #2. Cody is a Gold Glove outfielder. Or a Gold Glove 1st Baseman. Yelich plays exclusively outfield and has a significant negative WAR. (-.6). Cody has a 1.6!!!! defensive WAR. That is elite. And Cody has 100+ RBI, 100+ runs, and may get 12 more walks to have 100+ walks! And now, Max is coming back, and Corey is getting hot. So less pressure on Cody. Anyway, I disagree. And — I think Cody has a hot streak coming. He has been putting the ball in play. He is due for some balls to fall in. And don’t look now, but Cody has a better WAR than Mike Trout

  6. Cody was ahead of Yelich by a small margin in my opinion due to his overall contribution on offense and defense. Though that was before Yelich fractured his kneecap and is now done for the season. The NL MVP is now Bellinger’s to lose with just a few weeks left.

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