Dodgers: Cody Bellinger Playing a Game of Adjustments
Another day of Los Angeles Dodgers baseball – another chance to write about Cody Bellinger. Whereas a lot of the stuff I write about the 23-year old wunderkind are about his glowing successes, this is going to be about his adjustments.
At the current time, Bellinger is posting a 6.0 bWAR season to lead baseball. Moreover, his .355/.451/.702 slash line looks like something out of a video game on rookie skill-level. Still, he leads all players in All-Star game votes.
However – Bellinger has gone through a recent slump – and his average plummeted from .404 to .352 since May 22.
Here are some reasons not to worry about the Dodgers’ slugger – and signs of a ballplayer who knows it’s a game of adjustments.
Adjustments Of Recent
Recently, J.P. Hoornstra of the OC Register details some of the adjustments Bellinger made in order to break out of his first swoon of 2019. Despite his knowledge of the strike-zone and extensive video data, pitchers were getting Bellinger out by getting him to swing outside of the zone.
Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger made adjustments to pull out of mini “slump” https://t.co/1kTMEpfLC7
— O.C. Register (@ocregister) June 18, 2019
Apparently, pitchers were using more sinkers and sliders on Bellinger rather than fastballs. This seems like a novel concept – so much that – I wonder why it took them this long to try it. Now, his manager Dave Roberts says that Bellinger knows exactly what is going on with how the opposition is attacking him.
“He was going outside the strike zone and trying to do too much. Once he kind of reeled himself in, he was back to doing what he’s been doing all year for us.”
Definitely, Bellinger’s adjustments paid dividends in the series against the Chicago Cubs. He homered 3 times, all off left-handed pitching; each home run going to left, center, and right field. Without question, Bellinger showed he could leave the park to any direction and hit the ball where it’s pitched. Furthermore, he displayed the patience needed within a series against a big-time opponent that has the mark of a league MVP.
Bellinger’s Adjustments Since 2018
Next, one of my favorite writers Eno Sarris has a great piece over at The Athletic about Bellinger changing where he stood in the batter’s box. By comparison, check out my tweets below that show not only where Bellinger stood in 2018 to 2019 – but the effect it’s had on his ‘heat maps’ in the strike zone.
For all the talk I have read about Bellinger’s adjustments in 2019, I have not seen much about where Bellinger stood in the box. Now, Sarris speaks to Bellinger about this change.
“It’s just where I’m more comfortable,” Bellinger said this week, explaining that the move back closer to the plate was just a part of a larger group of adjustments he made in the offseason, pointing out that he “found a good place for my bat — I load it more like I did in 2017.”
When sitting the two pictures of 2018 Bellinger and 2019 Bellinger side-by-side, he looks like a completely different player; literally. Undeniably, hugging the plate while he hits has given him more control of the zone and extended reach and power to the opposite field.
Finally, the read over at The Athletic from Sarris is worth your click and time. There are many veterans who talk about the approach that Bellinger has adopted, and how it helps a hitter.
It’s honestly a pleasure to be able to write about a player like Bellinger each day. Regardless, it’s hard to tell his story in full without writing about the adjustments he is working diligently to make. To be sure, when a player explodes on the scene with the success that the right fielder did his rookie year; the league develops a book on how to get him out. From there, it’s a constant ever-changing game of adjustments.
Often times, what happens from there tells the difference if you end up with a generational talent, a mediocre player who teases you with ability, or a complete flop.
Right now, Bellinger is flourishing. And it’s due to these adjustments you read about him making each week. It’s possible that the book of knowledge and bag of tricks he has at the end of his playing days would make for an interesting conversation.