By: Noah Wright
No doubt, Mike Trout is the best player in the MLB. There’s no argument. He’s put up 7 straight season of MVP worthy numbers. Trout has been very comparable to Willie Mays from 1954 to 1960. Trout has the better OPS (by .001), and has a much higher OBP. While Mays still stole more bases, and hit more home runs, Trout has a higher WAR than Mays in the same time span (63.8 to 63.1).
Most people will say that Mookie Betts is the 2nd best MLB player. He’s a 5 tool player with 2 MVP level seasons under his belt. During 2018, Betts batted .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs and 30 stolen bases. He was also one of the best OF defenders during ‘18 as well. However, there’s a rising name in the MLB. He’s off to a scorching hot start to the season. So much so he’s making some of 2018’s MVP candidates look like amateurs. I’m talking about Dodgers’ right fielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger
Bellinger came to the Dodgers in 2017 as a top prospect. He was called up after regular first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez went down with injury. Gonzalez, who was already showing his age, could not stay healthy in ‘17, which opened the door for Bellinger. The lefty swinger was amazing in his rookie year. He blasted 39 home runs, as a rookie. He broke the NL Rookie home run record, all while showing some decent speed. Overall, he batted .267/.352/.581 with a 138 wRC+. He also had positive marks in DRS at first base and the outfield. Obviously, he won Rookie Of The Year.
Though Bellinger didn’t perform as well during all of his sophomore season, he still provided 25 home runs, 120 wRC+ with solid defense. But now it’s 2019. Bellinger entered 2019 as the team’s right fielder. After the breakout of Max Muncy, Bellinger has been turned from primary 1B, 4th outfielder to primary right fielder. Bellinger is becoming a 5 tool player as well. He’s showing power, great fielding/arm strength, good base running, and is hitting for average as well.
Through Cody Bellinger’s first 112 plate appearances, he has been phenomenal. Entering 4-26-19, he has a .426/.500/.894 with 12 home runs, and a 256 wRC+. You already know that Bellinger is a good defensive OF. He has never posted bad numbers in the OF, and already has 6 DRS and 1.0 UZR in right field. However even though he is is a first baseman by trade, Bellinger has a good arm.Currently, he has .9 arm runs above average. Bellinger has a 3.0 bWAR, through only 26 games. He had a 4.2 bWAR in both 2017 and 2018. Also what is uncharacteristic for a 1B by trade is his speed and baserunning prowess. Bellinger has a 29.2 F/S average sprint speed to start 2019. In comparison, Billy Hamilton is faster by 3 tenths of a foot/second. While he does have a 0 BSR to start 2019, he had a 4.1 BSR in 2018.
Now, you turn your attention to the Red Sox right fielder, Mookie Betts. So far throughout his career, Betts has been inconsistent. Sure he looked like an MVP in 2016 and 2018, but in 2017, Betts had an OPS of just .803. This season, Betts has gotten off to a so-so start for his standards with a .827 OPS in 114 plate appearances. While his defense has stayed pretty steady since 2016, he has yet to put up back to back fantastic seasons.
Now sure, Bellinger hasn’t put up back to back fantastic seasons just yet in his career either. His good, but not amazing 2018 season shows that. However, Bellinger looks like a true NL MVP candidate. His speed, power, and defense are all meeting elite levels. By the end of 2019, Bellinger just might be the second best player in the MLB.