With a key two-run home run in the decisive Game 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger was named the MVP of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.
At age 23 years, 99 days, Bellinger is the youngest position player to win a postseason MVP award, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information research. The only other 23-year-old position player to win a postseason MVP was the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez in 2016, who co-won the NLCS award with Jon Lester; Baez was 23 years, 326 days old at the time.
The Dodgers trailed 1-0 in the second inning before Bellinger hit his home run off Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. The Dodgers won 5-1.
“We had [starter Walker] Buehler on the mound today, who has nasty stuff, who loves the big game. Once we gave him the lead, we really liked our chances,” Bellinger said.
Bellinger went 1-for-4 on Saturday. He opened the playoffs with an 0-for-15 slide and finished with just five hits in the series against Milwaukee. But he certainly made the most of them.
“All postseason I felt fairly good. I wasn’t seeing any results,” he said. “And luckily for me I’ve got a lot of veterans on this team. They said stick with the process and the results will come. And that’s exactly what I did, and it showed.”
Bellinger’s .200 batting average matches that of Boston Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. for the lowest by a position player selected MVP of a league championship series, with each coming this postseason.
Now Bellinger and Bradley will face off in the World Series beginning Tuesday night at Fenway Park. Los Angeles is going for its first championship since 1988 after it lost to the Houston Astros in seven games in the Fall Classic last year.
“We know how hard it is to make the World Series. To do it two years in a row is really special,” Bellinger said. “I know how lucky I am to be a part of it two years in a row.
“We’ve got a tough series against the Red Sox that’s coming up. But we’re going to enjoy this right now and get our mind turned around tomorrow.”
After Bellinger went 0-for-4 in Los Angeles’ 6-5 loss in the NLCS opener, manager Dave Roberts had him on the bench at the start of Game 2 with left-hander Wade Miley on the mound for Milwaukee.
Bellinger entered in the fifth and got Los Angeles on the board with an RBI single in the seventh, helping the Dodgers rally for a 4-3 victory with his first hit of the playoffs.
He picked up confidence from there, culminating with his clutch swing in the series-tying victory in Game 4 and his fourth career playoff homer in the clinching win.
Manny Machado started the inning with a bunt single before Bellinger drove a 2-2 pitch from Jhoulys Chacin deep to right. He playfully flexed his right arm and pointed to his biceps after rounding third on his big drive.
“These kids, man, guys like Cody and those guys, man, they’re true champions,” Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp said. “They’re warriors, and they listen, and they want to be great. That’s the thing: They want to be great, and they listen, and it shows.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.