An Open Letter To Cody Bellinger

Dear Cody Bellinger,

I write this not to be like the fans who ‘at you’ on twitter. We have written other open letters, and maybe they were read. It’s likely that they weren’t. I guess the purpose of this letter is to get my thoughts down on paper, and for my own therapeutic reasons. Certainly, I wish this was another installment in our ‘Bellinger Bombs’ series. It cannot be that because you went 0 for 4 tonight. You’re going 0 for 4 entirely too often this season, and you’re now 1 for your last 21.

None of this is to say that your 2018 season has been bad. You have come to the plate 199 times this year. I think I have seen all but about ten of those plate appearances. Studying your tendencies, I won’t pretend to be Turner Ward. Nevertheless, I am seeing things I can’t ignore. I’ve been patient – and I’ve waited almost two months to avoid being reactive. You’re a young ballplayer, and you had immense success at an age that most guys are still trying to conquer the lower levels of the minor leagues.

But the last couple games, I noticed something. Your socks are high. To me – that’s you mentally acknowledging that you’re struggling. You look like a player who lacks confidence. Before the season started, you said that you don’t ‘give an (expletive)’ about a sophomore slump. It’s just baseball, you said. You look as healthy and as athletic as you ever have. It’s great seeing you play center every night. So if you’re healthy, the problem has to be mental and from an approach standpoint.

I’m not going to write an open letter to an Austin Barnes, or a Chris Taylor, or even a Pedro Baez. They’re fine ballplayers. But I write this letter to you because I believe you have the talent to go down in the annals of Dodger greats. I have been watching baseball obsessively for almost 30 years now. When I saw your swing last season – almost from the first time I saw it – I said aloud that it was the best left-handed swing I’ve seen since Ken Griffey Jr.

I cannot tell you how highly I think of your abilities. But if we’re being honest with one another – you’re playing substandard baseball. The Dodgers need more from you. Quietly, you’re a reason the Dodgers are underachieving. It’s a lot to heap on a 22-year old player – the expectations were enormous – maybe almost unrealistic. I still think you’re good enough that you can get hot and carry a ball club for a few weeks. Few talents in the entire game have that quality.

Night after night, I see you swinging through hitter’s pitches. We hear about adjustments you saw on video, or that you’re right on the cusp of a breakthrough. All the while, your average has plummeted to .244, and you’re getting on base at a .307 clip. That is Jurickson Profar and Jose Iglesias territory, Cody. You’re slugging .444, putting you behind guys like Leonys Martin, Kevin Pillar, and Miguel Andujar. There is no way that these things should occur on any planet in the world where baseball is played. Players like Tyler Austin, Jed Lowrie, and Pedro Alvarez have more home runs than you. Even for someone who doesn’t judge a player on the long ball – and I love the long ball – it drives me nuts to see this. Your name should not even be mentioned in the same few sentences with these players.

You’re Cody Bellinger. The 2017 Rookie of the Year. You set an all-time record last season for homers in the National League by a rookie. What in the world is going on between your ears that has allowed the book on getting you out to become ‘throw this guy fastballs and there’s no way he makes contact’. That’s insanity. Pure insanity.

I want to see you take more walks. Using the whole field really would help slow the game down for you. These are the very basics that a fan who didn’t play above collegiate baseball has no business telling you. The take home message here is that Cody Bellinger is the one holding back Cody Bellinger.

You’re getting yourself out time and again. The weight training, the nutrition; all that stuff made for great headlines. It’s made for really unspectacular baseball.

I think you’re a good week or two from turning this around and having a big season. You’re one of the marquee stars in the greatest organization in sports. The world is your oyster still kid – so have a little fun out there – and don’t play tight. I think the game has probably always come easy for you. Maybe that’s part of the problem. Obviously, you will have to start mastering the mental approach of baseball; that’s something that only the greatest could ever master. Read Ted Williams’ book on hitting. You’re still one of the best physical talents the game has to offer.

We can get all the guys healthy that we want – but we can’t make a run without Bellinger being Bellinger. You have to get right, whatever it takes. It has to happen soon – not in late August and not for a week or so in July. I believe in you, as much as anyone out there. But it’s time to ride or die. Let’s drop the socks and start getting some knocks, shall we?


Dodgers Nation (Clint)

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    1. Clint,

      Excellent points. Maybe not about the socks, but the mental aspect of the game. Former Dodger Adrian Gonzales was adept at making adjustments from pitch to pitch, and current Dodger Justin Turner as well. Cody has the physical abilities, and now must work on making pitchers pitch to him, and most of all not beating himself.

    2. Yeah, Bellinger is struggling, but he when he goes against the direction of his manager. The he presents as uncoachable.

  1. Clint, excellent letter and as for everyone else in that dugout, YOU ARE THE BEST TEAM IN THE MAJORS, I don’t say this because as a kid my veins have had nothing but Dodger Blue and that’s been for 30+ years. There is no other team that equals to what you all have in that dugout. IT’S GUT CHECK TIME BOYZ…….. GO GET WHAT’S YOURS…. ALWAYS A DODGER #1

  2. Cody, just hang in there. Sometimes we just have to bow our neck and keep walking. It’s in there and it will be back. You are without a doubt one of the most phenomenal athletes I have ever seen with the sweetest left handed swing ever, speed and a great arm and a gold glove hanging off the end of that right one.

    I live in Oklahoma and have been a Dodger fan since our first baseman’s name was Gil and our center fielders name was Duke. I firmly believe you have the tools to surpass both of them….and they were both better than fair hands.

    I have had quarter horses all my life and I am a great believer in good blood. I don’t know your parents but I’m betting that that good blood is running thru your veins and it will show. I promise you that. Just keep your head down and keep on trying. Listen to Turner Ward and J.T. and remember all the good things you are bringing to the show every day. God bless you son.

  3. I know Cody will never read this but I’ll say it anyway. Yes, you’re a very good athlete and I’m happy as can be that you wear Dodger blue. But, please learn to be a “hitter”, not a home run hitter resulting more often as a strike out hitter. I’ve never seen you choke up and go with the pitch to whatever field that pitch calls for. Choke up and get hits to all fields. Move base runners around. Stop swinging for the fence at virtually every at bat. There’s a time for the “long ball”, and it ain’t at every plate appearance. I believe in you…we all believe in you. There’s so much more to the game than hitting an occasional dinger. Try it…you might like it.

    1. It was a fun letter to read. Nothing that i’d guess most of us who played the game for a while don’t already know, but well written. Getting that message into a 22 year old kids head is the problem. I also offer this up. The Dodger’s most recent, can’t miss perennial all-star, named Joc Pederson was ruined by on one day. That day…..The HR Derby. I think it’s safe to say that event destroyed his potentially famous career. His swing hasn’t been the same since. It’s WAY too early to say, but could the same have happened to CB? His swing has gotten even longer and has more holes. Chicks dig HR’s Cody, but the W-L column cares about more.

      I pray as a Dodger’s fan, to never see one of our boys in blue in the contest again.

      1. Wow, Ryan. I had not thought about that. I might need to go back and look at Cody’s splits since the derby. I was at the derby the night that Joc participated. He *felt* like 2017 CB at that point.

  4. Cody, if you are reading these messages, then let me add a thing or three. I believe your problem is your batting stance. In fact, I had reckoned that during the off-season you would have worked on bending slightly at the hips to give you a more level swing and more hits. When you stand straight up, you are putting more work on your body as you quickly make that last adjustment before swinging at the ball. Opposing pitchers know this and believe that gives them the entire batting zone to place their pitches. I thought that your batting coach would have made some suggestions. If he did and chose not to listen, then pick the wax out of them and take his advice! Have a good season, Cody.

  5. Clint——enough..please,— about the welfare of men that know how to correct there swing——–

    1. So I think that Toles truly isn’t playing because he is still hampered by the hamstring. Truly. When he is ready I believe you will see him at Chavez Ravine.

  6. And get the bat off your shoulder and close the top button your jersey….jk! But seriously, you clearly are very talented, wish you the best!! GO DODGERS!

  7. Dear Cody,
    Thank you for hitting that grand slam last night. You were my dads favorite Dodger. He was grumbling a little the other day about how you were doing. He was 81. Last night he was able to listen to your grand slam as he passed away. We live in Michigan now, so we do not get to watch very many games. It was a true God send, he passed away 6 hours later, and I know he was listening. It was even more amazing, that it was against the Giants.

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