Bellinger, the consensus best player in baseball so far in 2019, wasted no time showing the New York Mets why he is so feared. In the first inning, he threw out Mets outfielder Michael Conforto trying to score on a weak single. Two innings later, Bellinger broke a 1-1 tie by launching his 19th home run of the season halfway up Dodger Stadium’s right field bleachers.
His most impressive play came in the eighth inning, with the Dodgers clinging to an 8-5 lead while the Mets had loaded the bases. J.D. Davis hit a fly ball to deep right field that looked like a run-scoring sacrifice fly until Bellinger backpedaled, caught the ball in stride, and rifled a throw to third base in time for Justin Turner to tag out Carlos Gomez. Bellinger’s throw also reached Turner before the run scored at home, preventing even more damage.
Bellinger’s excellence paved the way for Kenley Jansen’s first five-out save of the 2019 season in a game that Dave Roberts described as a must-win.
On both of his outfield assists, Bellinger threw the ball on a line — without a cutoff man — and perfectly set up a run-saving tag play. While he has been building his MVP candidacy with his prowess at the plate, building off the success there that gave him a unanimous National League Rookie of the Year nod in 2017, Bellinger has only recently gotten more chances to show off his throwing arm in the outfield.
Teammates like Turner, though, have long taken notice of his arm. Turner pointed out that fans got a glimpse of what it can do in the 2018 postseason, per AM 570 LA Sports:
“Cody’s got a really good arm. I think we saw it last year in the World Series. I think it was the extra-inning game when he made that throw from center field. He’s got a really, really good arm. I’d almost say it’s underrated, probably, in the game.”
Turner is referring to Game 3 of last year’s World Series, the 18-inning marathon ended by Max Muncy’s walk-off home run. Muncy was the hero that night, but only because of Bellinger.
In the 10th inning, the Boston Red Sox had runners on first and third with one out against Pedro Baez when Eduardo Nunez hit a lazy fly ball. Like he did this week, Bellinger caught it and in one motion made a perfect throw, this time to home plate, nabbing Ian Kinsler and preserving the tie game.
As Bellinger continues to build his NL MVP campaign, and with a play like last season’s on the game’s biggest stage, his arm may not go “underrated” much longer.