MLB: Will the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger Maintain a .400 Batting Average in 2019?

Cody Bellinger is a young player who has been strong at the plate in his very young career so far. The 2017 Rookie of the Year is one of the best young players in baseball. This year is no different for him, as he’s started off sizzling. Through 48 games, he was hitting .394 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are one of the league’s best teams.

Bellinger is well on his way to an excellent year, but can he become the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 for an entire season?

Cody Bellinger’s career numbers

Bellinger has had a short (three seasons) career thus far, but in that time he’s made quite an impact. Take a look at the numbers he’s amassed in his brief but productive career:

  • 81 home runs
  • 64 doubles
  • 217 RBI
  • A .282 batting average, a .367 on-base percentage, and a .556 slugging percentage
  • 340 hits

Bellinger has not been excellent in his two years of postseason play, but he has gone to two straight World Series with the Dodgers. That gives him more experience under his belt, which means he may perform better in future postseason appearances.

Bellinger’s incredible numbers this year

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Hot hardly describes how good Cody Bellinger has been at the plate in 2019. Sizzling, blazing, and other-worldly might be better terms. His stats through 48 games include:

  • 17 home runs
  • 44 RBI
  • 67 hits and 43 runs scored — both good for the league lead in each category
  • 10 doubles
  • Seven stolen bases
  • A .394 batting average, .478 on-base percentage, and a .765 slugging percentage – all three good for the league lead in each category

Barring an injury or unforeseen slump, Bellinger is a shoo-in for the All-Star game. But the question of whether he can maintain a .400 average for an entire season is an entirely different question altogether.

The history of .400 hitters in MLB

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Only 36 players in MLB history have hit .400 over the course of an entire season, and it’s been nearly 70 years since the last occurrence. Some notables include:

  • Tip O’Neill, who in 1887 hit .485 for the highest all-time batting average over the course of a season
  • Ty Cobb, Ed Delahanty, and Rogers Hornsby all accomplished the feat three separate times
  • Ted Williams, the Red Sox Hall of Famer who was the last man to hit .400 over an entire season when he hit .406 in 1941

Hitting .400 was a feat achieved somewhat regularly before 1941; it’s never been achieved since, but a few players have come close. Some modern players who flirted with .400 include:

  • Tony Gwynn, who hit .393 in 1994
  • George Brett, who hit .389 in 1980
  • Rod Carew, who hit .388 in 1977

Batting averages have plummeted in general in recent years, which may not be indicative of a decline in play. What it does mean is that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll see a .400 hitter anytime soon. But if anyone has a chance, it seems like it would be Bellinger.

Will Cody Bellinger maintain a .400 batting average in 2019?

Will Cody Bellinger hit .400 in 2019? It will be tough, but he's off to a great start.
Hitting .400 won’t be easy, but Cody Bellinger has as good a chance as anyone to do it in 2019. | Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

CBS Sports recently made a case for Bellinger as the first man to hit .400 since Ted Williams, and they make a fairly compelling case based on Bellinger’s strikeout rate, ability to hit the ball hard, speed, and overall confidence at the plate.

A few other points in Bellinger’s favor are:

  • He’s protected by an above average Dodgers’ lineup. The Dodgers have 77 home runs and a .341 on-base percentage as a team.
  • He’s consistent. His numbers have not dipped considerably for any long stretches of his career thus far.
  • A significant chunk of the season has already passed, making it easier for him to make it to season’s end.
  • He’s young. Every player is susceptible to injuries, but Bellinger’s youth is on his side here. He’s less likely to succumb to the aches and pains that may have sidelined a player 10 years his senior.

When considering all these factors, it appears as though Cody Bellinger has as good a shot as anyone to hit .400 for the season.