When he was called up to the Major Leagues on June 3, 2013, Cuban import Yasiel Puig saved not only the Los Angeles Dodgers' season, but also the job of then-manager Don Mattingly, who sources have said was 48 hours from being fired. In his first 11 games, Puig went 19-for-39 (.487) with 2 doubles, 4 home runs and 10 RBIs.
That same month, the Dodgers spent their fourth-round draft pick on a Chandler, Ariz., high school slugger, Cody Bellinger, the son of former Yankees and Angels utility man Clay Bellinger.
When center fielder Joc Pederson went down two weeks ago with a groin injury, the Dodgers decided to bite the bullet and bring up the younger Bellinger, ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Dodgers system. He hasn't disappointed. In his first 11 games, he's hit .357 with 5 home runs (the most by a Dodgers player in his first 11 career games in the modern era), 14 RBIs, a double and a triple, scoring 11 runs. With Pederson coming off of the disabled list, Bellinger is forcing the Dodgers' hand, especially over the last week.
In the past 7 days, Bellinger is second in the Major Leagues and first in the National League in slugging (1.000), fourth in the big leagues with a 1.455 OPS, sixth in the bigs in hitting (.429), third in baseball with 8 runs scored, first with 12 RBIs and fifth with 3 home runs, all in just 5 games.
Each of those 5 games were against divisional foes, with Los Angeles going 3-2 against the Giants and Padres, battering their neighbors to the south by a combined score of 18-4.
Even in losing 2 of 3 to the Giants at home, Bellinger went 4-for-12 (.333) with 4 runs scored, a double, a triple and 3 RBIs. It was against San Diego, though, where Bellinger did the most damage. The rookie went 3-for-5 on Friday, blasting 2 home runs and driving in 4. His first tater in the top of the fourth broke the seal, staking the Dodgers to a 1-0 lead. Bellinger put a bookend on the game by slugging his second home run (fourth of the season) to center in the top of the ninth for the final three tallies.
On Saturday, Bellinger once again got the scoring going in the top of the fourth, rapping a first-pitch single up the middle to plate Justin Turner, and move Franklin Gutierrez to third. Gutierrez would later score when a pickoff attempt by Austin Hedges went awry, and Bellinger, who moved to second on the throw, would come home on a single by Puig.
Bellinger put a bow on the proceedings in the top of the ninth, fouling off two straight fastballs from rookie fireballer Miguel Diaz before by yanking a high 94-mph heater to right center for a grand slam -- the first of his career.
Through his first 11 career games, Bellinger ranks first in Dodgers history with 14 RBIs, tied for first with Puig for the most total bases (33), tied for first with Corey Seager with 7 extra-base hits, tied for second in multi-hit games (6), fifth with 11 runs scored and sixth with 15 hits. His two multi-home run games in his first 10 makes him the second Dodger since 1913 with two in his first 70 career games, with the other being 1996 Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth (he had 2 in his first 68 games).