Slugger wins National League Outstanding Rookie honors
By Ken Gurnick
LOS ANGELES -- Cody Bellinger captured another award Wednesday, winning the Players Choice Award for the National League's Outstanding Rookie over Pittsburgh's Josh Bell and St. Louis' Paul DeJong. The win gave the Dodgers back-to-back winners, with Corey Seager earning the honors in 2016.
"It's a huge honor," Bellinger said on MLB Network. "To have the players recognize you is pretty special."
Bellinger, who earlier won the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award, set an NL rookie home run record with 39 long balls while also ranking among all-time Dodgers rookies with 97 RBIs in 132 games after beginning the season in the Minors. He is also the favorite to win the BBWAA NL Rookie of the Year Award, which will be announced Monday.
The Dodgers went 91-41 in games Bellinger played, 89-38 in his starts, and he finished second in the NL in home runs and fifth in slugging percentage (.581). He also set a Los Angeles rookie record with a .933 OPS.
"For me, it was a team effort," Bellinger said. "We had an unbelievable team. Maybe I helped a little bit. But I think we won because we were such an unbelievable overall team."
Bellinger didn't shy away from the pressure of batting cleanup, and the left-handed-hitting slugger wasn't neutralized by lefty pitching. His 12 home runs off lefties were the most in the Majors by a left-handed hitter and most by a lefty-hitting Dodger since 1974. His six multi-homer games were the most by a Dodgers rookie and third-most in MLB history.
Bellinger's achievements included the third cycle hit in Los Angeles' history -- ninth in franchise history -- and according to Elias, he became the first rookie with 20 home runs to also hit an inside-the-park homer.
He was the youngest Dodgers position player ever selected to the All-Star team at 21 years and 354 days, and he also participated in the Home Run Derby. He became the only player to have four multi-homer games in his first 45 regular-season games.
Now in its 26th year, the Players Choice Awards program has been honoring the game's best of the best. Players annually honor the outstanding player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player in each league, while the Player of the Year and Man of the Year awards bestow top honors without regard to league. Balloting for the 2017 Players Choice Awards was conducted in all Major League clubhouses on Sept. 19 under the supervision of accounting firm KPMG.
The Players Trust raises funds and attention for issues affecting the needy and promotes community involvement, and it has recognized the outstanding on-field and off-field performances of Players Choice Award winners by contributing more than $4 million to charities around the world. For additional information, please visit http://playerstrust.org/programs/players-choice-awards/.
Bellinger said he would donate the award grant to teammate Enrique Hernandez's Youcaring.com Puerto Rico relief effort.
"He did so much for them that it will be really cool to help him out," said Bellinger.