Dodgers' Cody Bellinger smashing MLB records in historic first month of 2019 season

Cody Bellinger had one of the best starts in baseball history, breaking records at a remarkable rate and dominating the MLB leaderboards. Bellinger finished the month of April with 14 home runs, tying Albert Pujols (2006) and Alex Rodriguez (2007) for the most home runs hit before May 1. Reigning National League MVP Christian Yelich of the Brewers also tied the record with his 14th homer, a solo shot off Mets' Noah Syndergaard on Saturday.

Here are all the other records Bellinger collected during his hot start to the season:

  • 97 total bases: MLB record for total bases before May 1
  • 37 RBI: MLB record for most RBI before May 1
  • 47 hits: MLB record for most hits before May 1
  • 32 runs: Tied MLB record for most runs scored before May 1

Heading into May, Bellinger is slashing an incredible .431/.508/.890 (1.397 OPS) with a 264 OPS+, all of which rank first in MLB. 

Bellinger's overall offensive production dropped a bit in 2018 after his 2017 National League Rookie of the Year season, when he hit 39 home runs with 97 RBI in 132 games. Bellinger, 23, spent this offseason working with the Dodgers new hitting coach and prized hitting guru Robert Van Scoyoc, working to make some adjustments to make sure Bellinger's approach felt more natural. The offseason adjustments appear to be working as Bellinger's plate discipline has dramatically improved. 

Hitting coaches Van Scoyoc and Brant Brown helped Bellinger straighten his posture and keep his upper body square while in the batter's box, to help better steady and sync up his swing, manager Dave Roberts told LA Times' Andy McCullough.

In speaking with the media after Sunday's win, Bellinger sang his hitting coaches praises:

"I would just say it's understanding how to use your swing, just trying to stay within myself in the cage every day and repeat what I'm doing," said Bellinger. "Just not trying to do too much. Rob and Brownie have done a good job of keeping me where I'm at. They've done a great job for me."

As of Wednesday, Bellinger's current strikeout rate for 2019 is 11.4 percent, cut down more than half from his 26.6 percent he had in 2017 and 23.9 percent last season. He's been able to improve his walk rate as well, posting a 14.4 percent for this season so far, better than both his 2017 (11.7 percent) and 2018 (10.9 percent) marks. His 19 walks so far this season surpasses his 15 total strikeouts through 31 games.

In his final game of the month (LAD 10, SF 3), Bellinger went 1 for 3. He singled, walked and scored twice. The Dodgers finished the first month of the season with a 20-12 record, the first team to win 20 games before May 1. They enter Wednesday atop the NL West, leading the NL in runs (164) and RBI (159). 

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