Cody Bellinger isn’t just off to a hot start this season — he’s off to one of the hottest starts we’ve seen from any player in MLB history. On Friday night, the Dodgers’ slugger approached his eighth game of 2019 with a league-leading five home runs and 13 RBI. By the time the club wrapped their 10-6 win over the Rockies, Bellinger had six home runs and 16 RBI. According to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, that’s the most any player has collected in the first eight games of a season since Alex Rodriguez and Eddie Mathews went on similar tears for the 2007 Yankees and 1953 Braves, respectively.
Bellinger went yard in the fifth inning of Friday’s game, pinpointing a 90-m.p.h. fastball from Tyler Anderson and launching it back out to the right field bullpen for a three-run homer to put the Dodgers up 6-1. He’s building on an impressive follow-up to last year’s campaign, during which he slashed .260/.343/.470 with 25 homers, an .814 OPS, and 3.6 fWAR through 632 plate appearances and a full 162 games.
The 23-year-old outfielder isn’t the only one who’s been mashing home runs for the Dodgers these days, either. Max Muncy engineered a solo home run in the fourth inning, while Russell Martin waited until the sixth to take Carlos Estévez deep for his first homer of the 2019 season. Collectively, the Dodgers rank first in the National League with 21 home runs through their first eight games, tied with the Mariners for most in MLB.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.