Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers were far and away baseball’s best rookies during the regular season, breaking records for home runs in MLB and the National League, respectively.
Unfortunately, they were also among most the prolific whiffers. That trend continued in the postseason as they set records again, though this time for their inability to make consistent contact.
With his three strikeouts in the Dodgers 5-1 loss to the Astros in Game 7 of the World Series, Bellinger raised his postseason total to 29 strikeouts in 15 games. That broke the single postseason record established by, you guessed it, Aaron Judge.
Judge struck out 27 times in the Yankees 13-game postseason run and only officially set the record 12 days before.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) November 2, 2017
As an interesting sidebar to that, Bellinger struck out 16 times during the seven-game World Series. In the Yankees five-game ALDS against the Indians, Judge also struck out 16 times. Both totals are more than Tony Gwynn’s strikeout total in 577 plate appearances during the 1995 season. Oh, and both totals are now tied for the most strikeouts in a single postseason series.
By now you’ve probably got the point. Both guys strikeout a ton, but it’s not all bad even though they’re coming up empty once or twice per game. Both are sluggers in every sense of the word. They know they can change a game with one swing, and they’re more than willing to cut loose when they think they can handle a pitch. Bellinger is a little less selective than Judge, who led MLB with 127 walks this season. But he’s also three years younger with a lot of room to grow.
Besides, when you mix in the power production as often as Bellinger does, he’ll earn a lot of patience from his manager, teammates and from Dodgers fans.
The strikeout record is not one he’ll wear proudly. It will sting even more now that the Dodgers have fallen short in a most painful Game 7 loss. But there were so many highs for Bellinger, from becoming the first Dodgers rookie to hit for the cycle, to homering in each of the Dodgers three postseason series, to even making a critical scoop in Game 6. Hopefully those moments are not lost on him. Hopefully he knows the best is yet to come.
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