Dodgers: How Cody Bellinger Went From MVP to One of the Worst Players in MLB

It’s been a frustrating season for Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger, to say the least. Entering the year, expectations were somewhat tempered considering that the former NL MVP had undergone off-season shoulder surgery due to a shoulder bump celebration with Kiké Hernandez in the NLCS last year, but no one expected things to go this poorly.

Bellinger suffered a major setback during LA’s fourth game of the season when he suffered a hairline fracture to his left fibula after being cleated by A’s reliever Reymin Guadan. The injury was initially believed to be minor but ultimately proved to be much more severe forcing the 2-time All-Star to miss almost two months.


We discuss why Cody Bellinger hasn’t looked like the elite slugger that he was during the first half of the 2019 season and why a reduced role could benefit him in the long run. Next, we dive into the numbers to see just how far Bellinger has fallen. Plus, would LA ever consider trading Cody Bellinger?

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Doug McKain

Doug McKain is a lifelong Dodger fan and hosts Dodgers Nation’s “DNpostgame” show online. He also hosts Dodgers DougOut and the LA Sports Report on YouTube. DMAC is also a rabid Lakers fan, and lover of all Los Angeles sports.


  1. Sure the Dodgers would/could consider trading Bellinger, but Who would want him? The guy is lost at the plate, he doesn’t have an approach other than “swing for the fences” and he is not very good at that. Maybe you can get a Tommy burger or In-N-Out burger?

    1. Robin, it appears anyway that he refuses to adjust his straight up stance and hoe close he is at the dish. The results are the usual pitches he swings and misses completely quite often and looking bad doing so.

    2. The curse of LA Greatness Adrian Gonzales . I was so sad to see Adrian be traded off to Atlanta and then off to NY with the Mets. As I see the current Dodger batting leader @ 0.277 BA (Justin Turner) I take note that Yasiel Puig batted 0.279 and career 0.299 BA over 7 years.

  2. It’s a good thing he still plays “gold glove“ caliber defense or he would be roommates with Lux.

  3. Cody will be an all-star again, but probably not an MVP. No need to consider trading, you never trade an player at his lowest value. Platoon for the rest of the year

    1. There are better players sent down like McKistry and Lux, for example. When Belli plays a premier Dodgers must sit. Cody gets a few hits now they rarely result in a run. There is the occational home runs. How long can we carry this guy? We are in a pennent race.

  4. I wouldn’t trade Bellinger. You sell high and buy low. And he’s at rock bottom. But I would only play him when Betts needs a rest, and only in the 7 or 8 spot in the batting order. Pollack and Taylor should be in the lineup every day. Give Bellinger one more season to get it together. Let him get healthy, and let him get his swing back. Then let him him walk if he fails again in 2022. He needs to know his job is on the line to get that sense of urgency to take his swing back to square one. I would trade Lux. Bellinger may be a has been. But Lux is a never was.

    1. you are not going to get much for Cody at this point. after the season the Dodgers offer him a low salary in arbitration. then he spends the offseason getting stronger and healthier and works with a hitting coach totally revamping his swing and approach. You can’t change something you’ve been doing the same way since you were in Little league!!

      1. Yes, he needs to revamp and change that straight up and too close to the plate stance for one thing. He keeps missing these very same pitches that all the NL pitchers are exploiting him with.

    2. A quote from ESPN the other night on national TV. “My sources on the Dodgers have told me that Cody has been working hard and putting in extra work to get back to where he was in 2019.” At one point he may click in. He has had 2 serious injuries in a short period of time. And right now a few glimpses are showing up of the player he was and may be again. He is still getting a lot of reps because of the hard work he is putting in. He may be the player you regret trading for the next 10 years. 106W I agree with a lot you say. Now is not the time you trade. Not only that, but it is bad management to get rid of a guy that has gotten hurt while doing his job. You either play the long game (sign Mookie) or the short game (trade Alvarez for Josh Fields). We are playing pretty well with him playing a lot. Too early to think about sitting him down. Too early to trade.

      1. Not true. Cody has bot been a premier or even average player since the middle of 2019 his MVP season. He has a dismal 217 BA since then. If he doesn’t adjust he will fade.

        1. I beg to differ. Belli was still at all-star level performance for the second half of ’19; he just wasn’t other-worldly like the first half. Here’s his ’19 second half slash line: 371/546/917 with an OPS+ of 140. If you prefer traditional numbers he batted 263 with 17 HR.
          In ’20, he was slightly above average at 333/455/789 with OPS+ of 112. You’re tossed by his 239 BA which was 6 points below league average at the expense of everything else. Moreover, his 12 HRs tied him with Max Muncy for 4th on the team (Pollock, Betts, and Seager hit more.) The narrative that Bellinger has sucked since the middle of ’19 is completely false. Now his ’21 is another story …

    1. Belli much better defensive replacement than Beatty. besides isn’t Beatty part of the 28 man expanded roster for September?

  5. Change is hard, but not impossible, you just need to accept it’s for the better.

  6. It is way to early to consider Cody washed up. We all know about his injuries this year and likely adverse effect it had on his play.

    For now Roberts said he will no longer start Cody vs left-handers which should be helpful to the team and to Cody and the Dodgers have enough depth to do that.

    Elite baseball skills do not magically vanish its just tough to watch because of all the great things we’ve seen him do before and we’re chasing the Giants.

    He will be back.

    1. After the 2018 season where Cody was strictly platooned because he just couldn’t solve LHP, he was upset about that cause felt he was an ever day player and did not want to be a platoon player the following year, so he worked hard on that during that off season. When 2019 came about we saw a much better Cody VS LHP. It was an MVP year and as I recall he hit 18 HR’s against LHP alone out of his 47 he hit that year. In fact, I think he led all of MLB as a LHB as far as those HR’s go against LHP. There were many in MLB that year that didn’t hit 18 HR,s for the entire year.

      1. Studies show MLB didn’t use the “juiced ball. Cody hit 39 home runs in 2017 and 25 in 2018.
        12 last year and 9 this year. Some say the “juiced ball” is back but with Cody’s uppercut swing he’s finished. His hitting began to decline in the second half and 2018 and 2019, prior to any injuries. He’s fast but not particularly smart has only 2 out of 4 base stealing, vs AJ Polluck 9 for 9. His arm is overrated, Belli has 4 assists to AJ’s 8 this year.

  7. This is not Little League anymore, this is the Big Leagues. Make changes ASAP…..J. Hair and Nomar said it still can be done now….why wait to next yr.? With his body physique, he should check out the knowledge of hitting from the great Ted Williams who knew how to hit being tall and lanky. Shawn Green also had some interesting tips as he is also similar in build and style. These guys had success for a long time and knew how to make the adjustments.

  8. Cody Bellinger is young and has all the tools to be an MVP again. I think he has a 75-90% chance at being an all star again. The injuries have taken their toll on him in 2021 and I would give him at least through 2022 before I would even consider trading him. He’s an elite defender in the outfield or 1st base (obvious gold glove caliber) and when right, he can carry a team at the plate. It is true that he has not returned to his MVP offensive production since the all star break from 2019 and I believe much of that is his stubbornness of not adapting his approach at the plate to the way pitchers adapted to his weaknesses and exploit them. Every time he hits a bomb, I halfway cringe because that reinforces his uppercut swing that just has too many holes in it. You would think that the batting coaches would have him study Trea Turner & Will Smith who both have tremendous (2 strike) approaches to every at bat knowing that if they shorten their swing, they can still hit the ball hard and put it in play which exponentially increases their results at the plate. Cody clearly has the talent but I wonder if his success came too early in his career which is contributing to his stubbornness in changing his approach. I would definitely stick with him, platoon him the rest of 2021 and see how 2022 goes for him when completely healthy. If he continues to struggle for a 4th consecutive season (last half of 2019, 2020, 2021 & 2022) then a demotion to OKC or trade should be considered.

    1. of course – he’s not going anywhere, except hopefully to remake his swing and close up the huge holes in it.

    2. Great points here, Charlie.. it’s a game of adjustments. As I said before, none of us expected the 1st half of 2019 Bellinger due because of shoulder surgery, he never had a real off season of workouts and then that broken fibula. But neither did we envision going into September he would look this awful hitting .171.

    3. Cody is not the player he use to be and may never be again. Get use to that everyone. You too Cody. So what does management do? You have two choices. Keep him for the rest of the season, using him for defensive purposes and as a pinch runner. No more hitting. Spare everyone the agony. Or, do what should be done now. Cody’s whole approach to hitting together with Cody go on the IL. Cody is not accepting the advise he has been offered so far. And, it will take something major to make change happen. Cody is sent packing to Northern California for what will probably become a near makeover of his hitting approach. If he is a good student and can execute everything he has been taught, he may make it back to the Dodgers by the end of the season. Otherwise, off to somewheres in the minors to learn how to chuck his yesterdays approach to hitting to today’s approach to pitching. Good luck to the Dodgers and all of its fans and good luck to you Cody.

  9. It’s amazing to me to even think our Dodgers with all the talent we have that Cody would even remain in the lineup? His swing is embarrassing to watch and his strikeouts night after night is a weakness in our lineup that can easily be remedied. Robert’s should be stressing this everynight but for whatever reason he’s still playing. Either trade him or sit him. We are too close to piss away another championship because of a weekness that can easily be solved.
    Lifetime fan Jeff Borland

  10. Willie Davis gave up his home run swing in 1969 after recognizing his “warning-track power” was getting him nowhere. He switched to a bigger bat and focused on stroking ground balls to the left (opposite field) side, then went on a 31-game hitting streak and remained a plus-hitter for rest of his career. After a couple of years, he even raised his home run rate to an average level.
    Cody has been excellent at serving the ball to left when he tries that, and I’ll bet he could bat over 500 by bunting for hits against he shift.

  11. The disconcerting part is now Bellinger is getting beaten with the high fastball. Used to be the slider down and in was his weakness. Now they go after him with the high hard stuff and dare him to hit it. He can’t.

    1. And he can’t because he has to make adjustments in order to do so and at this time has not. Considering the injury issues that he’s dealt with, at least he should be able to work on putting the ball in play and for now anyway trying to do the little things at the dish instead of struggling to put bat on ball. There’s such thing as productive outs which always be better than striking out with RISP.

    2. And what about the awful swings on outside/low balls? As he swings, he somehow squats, pulls his ass away and flicks at the ball.

  12. Dave Roberts gave away another game tonight. Was he saving Scherzer for a more important game? It is Sept. Sherz only has 4-5 starts left. Too many games he has not taken the opponents seriously enough. So sad.

  13. I always thought the Dodgers should have traded Bellinger after his MVP season. I’m not sure why they gave him that big contract. It was obvious that Bellinger was a product of luck. He had a great rookie season which isn’t surprising. A lot of bad players have good rookie seasons. It means nothing in baseball. He also had an amazing first half when he won the MVP. Other than that he’s been a very below average player. There was plenty of value the Dodgers missed out on. I doubt they trade him now. His potential is probably worth more than anything they could get for him at this point.

  14. Bellinger needs to be benched… and sent back down to try and get it back …. When u are hitting 170 , it’s time .
    There are many pitchers that are hitting better than him… u have to …. He’s been pathetic …
    Sad to see… hard to understand … but reality is reality …. Go back down to minors … if they are going to want to win World Series … they need a whole lineup hitting … and he ain’t the answer at this point….

    1. Belli get refuses to alter his Dave Kingman style. He is a ME guy, not a team guy. His defense does not save as many runs as his pathetic hacking fails to produce. He needs to be demoted to okc or DFA’d. Dodgers won’t miss him…they will EXCELL without this anchor ? dragging them down

  15. He’s recovering from an injury and a shoulder surgery. Not to mention being held to the expectations of his MVP year. The guy can play the outfield like none other, I feel 2022 he will be back to the Cody we all know and love.??

  16. I think Cody should be given another chance. Let him work on his game after the season ends. If there is no improvement next season, then management will have to decide what course to take.

  17. Belli has gone Belli up and has not ‘right sided’ himself since coming back from his last injury. Seems that both he and Seager are injury prone and along with CK, neither of the 3 can be dependable an entire season. I think that he should go on the auction block and see if anyone bites. He is obviously too daft to realize that he has Albert on the bench, who still has more knowledge and talent than Belli will ever have, and yet getting any advice from AP or any of the consistent hitters seems to elude him. Belli sits by himself on the bench and eat peanuts. He still stands straight up at the plate looking like lost and is totally unable to adjust to any pitch other than the ‘1’ he appears to be looking for. Swinging at flies with his eyes closed. Every pitcher that Belli faces knows that he’s struggling at the plate. Give him that high fastball and it’s strike 3 every time.

  18. It’s not Cody’s fault that bunting down the 3rd base line has been outlawed by some unwritten rule that has come down long after Mickey Mantle used to bunt his way on with the bases empty and no shift. When every team you play against puts their entire defense on the right side, and you yank another ground ball to 2nd base, it’s proof you just don’t have an understanding of the game. If Cody would even try to bunt his way on, the other teams would be forced to cover third while he’s at bat, which would then allow him to yank the ball into right field again. Hit it where they are.

  19. Agree with all the stubbornness comments and also the possibility he can turn this two year debacle around at some point if he would just listen to the the right advice. However, the X factor in my opinion is, he’s simply not the same wide eyed 22 year old anymore. Everything from his personal appearance to his personal life have changed dramatically. He looks sloppy, in a daze and about to be a father to his Instagram model’s’ baby. A new hitting instructor and some counseling wouldn’t hurt!

  20. Can’t tell if Cody has lost it with injuries and shoulder. I am curious to see how he is after off season of work to see if he returns back to his normal self. Too soon to give up on him, as others have stated, wouldn’t make sense to sell at his lowest value.

  21. We should have realized this would be a nightmare season after game one when he hit the homer and ran past JT!

  22. Belli oh Belli, where for art thou Belli? If only we could reboot thee to yesteryear when all was well and fans did cheer. But alas, those memories are fading fast, now we have two Turners, two Maxes, and a Mookie on hand and if they can’t do it, Smith, Pollack and Taylor can. So, relax dear Belli and please take heart, we all love a comeback story and you’ve got the part. So keep on trying your best to do what you did. It’s still somewhere in you, just find where it’s hid.

  23. Opposing pitchers know exactly how to pitch Cody. For the longest time, and I’m sure because of his slump, he was told NOT to swing at the 1st pitch. They figured this out and were pitching a fastball strike right down the middle and he was now 0-1. Next pitch down and away or down and in – he would look miserable swinging recklessly at this and was now 0-2. Guess what’s coming next! A high fastball – out of the strike zone and he swings and misses – yet another strike out! Recently, he has been swinging at the 1st pitch – anythiing to break the cycle. Strike 2 and 3 are the same as above. When he swings trying to hit the long ball, his head is so far away from seeing the bat hit the ball, he looks rediculously unprepared. Let’s start with getting base hits – nice level swings with 3/4 of the velocity. SEE the BAT hit the BALL! This next comment is for the entire Dodger lineup – swing to hit linedrive base hits first! The home runs will come naturally after starting with linedrive base hits!. I would still tell Cody to swing at the 1st fastball STRIKE. (and yes, I know, when a player is in a slump, don’t swing at the 1st pitch; wait for the plum ptich – in Cody’s case, he’s well past letting the 1st fastball strike go through!

  24. I will stand with Bellinger but not necessary a starter. I want to use Cody when he say I’m ready.

  25. It seems those who are “daddy’s to be” return as amazing players after baby is born…hopefully that is true for Belli.

  26. so – Dodgers are in first place!!!! Way to go Dodgers!!! have a great day off and hit the gnats hard on Friday!

  27. The elephant in the room that no one talks about is that even in his good years, he has been a total liability in the post season, and basically single handedly lost two world series for the Dodgers. Against Houston he struck out 17 times in 28 ABs, and against Boston, 1 for 16 with no walks and a caught stealing. His play in other post season series has also been miserable, and 200 ABs isn’t a small sample size. They should trade him, who cares what they get back for him, the money he makes can be used to replace him with a player that can hit elite pitching.

    1. boy that is an astute comment. i’ve been telling friends that he’s never hit top pitching and the one thing u always see in the playoffs is top pitching.

  28. If I were his hitting coach I would have him spending his whole batting practice
    hitting the ball to left field until he got his timing and confidence back, swinging for the fences and trying to pull every pitch is ruining him as a hitter. eventually he will be hitting yp the middle then he will be able to tell which location of pitches he can pull

    1. It’s maddening, isn’t it? He tries to pull every pitch no matter where it is…Nomar said the other night that he needs to worry about making contact not about bashing the ball over the wall. Bellinger either pops up, strikes out, or hits the ball into the shift his last 40 at-bats he is hitting around .120
      Bellinger will not perform in the playoffs because he will be facing elite pitching and he can’t hit a good inside pitch or a breaking ball outside.
      Wasn’t able to even when he was having a great season because good pitchers see his stance and know he can’t get around on a good inside pitch.

  29. When are the Dodgers going to replace the worst and dumbest coach in MLB? Coach Roberts is a complete loser.

  30. Belli you been smoking to much weed bruh. Or maybe not enough, one thing is for sure you must be the easiest out in baseball right now.

  31. Over two years of poor offense…this current edition of bellinger is reality. Better question is why did it take coach so long to make this “demotion”? We need mvp bellinger back, but this is reality

  32. I suspect Roberts keeps playing him, probably ordered to do so my Fried, hoping that somehow he can get his BA above .200 and become at least a somewhat viable trade or sell piece. It’s sad to see how he has declined but I’m sure he might be a good fit for another team. I feel a bit sorry for him, but let’s face it – either fish, cut bait, or get out of the boat. In any other business other than sports, you either do your job or you are made “redundant” or fired.

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