It’s been a tight race at the top of the home run leaderboards lately, with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger, Brewers’ Christian Yelich, and Angels’ Mike Trout entering Sunday’s games tied at 41 apiece. At least temporarily, however, Bellinger got the edge during the first inning of Sunday’s series finale against the Braves, belting a 415-foot three-run shot out to center field for his 42nd of the year.
Well, it was slightly more complicated than that: After picking up an 85.1-m.p.h. slider from Atlanta left-hander Max Fried, Bellinger returned the ball to the center field fence, where it slid in and out of Ronald Acuña Jr.’s glove before dropping over the fence for a home run.
Any way you slice it, it’s been a banner year for the two-time All-Star, who has reached career-high marks with a .318/.416/.673 batting line, 69 extra-base hits, a 1.089 OPS, and 6.7 fWAR over 517 plate appearances. Per MLB Stats, he’s also the youngest player to reach 42 home runs in a season since Nolan Arenado (24) and Bryce Harper (22) did it in for the 2015 Rockies and Nationals, respectively.
Still, there’s no doubt he’ll have a difficult time retaining his first-place status in the near future, as both Yelich and Trout are having monster seasons of their own. With his 41st blast on Saturday, Yelich is the first player to rack up at least 40 homers and 20 stolen bases since 2012, while Trout leads all major-league players with a staggering 8.2 fWAR — marking his seventh season with 8.0+ fWAR to date.