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Dodgers: The Numbers Don’t Favor a Major Cody Bellinger Bounce-Back

The last two seasons for Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger really parallel the last two years for the world. They’ve kinda sucked. For all of us, we’ve been mired in wave after wave of pandemic nightmare. And for Cody, he’s hit just .195 while posting career lows across the board with the bat.

Sure, he has some reasonable excuses with a shoulder injury and fractured leg ruining his 2021 campaign, but 2020 wasn’t all that much better. Coming off of an MVP season in 2019, Bellinger struggled to a .239 batting average and .789 OPS during the shortened 60 game sprint.

In the eyes of many, including MLB analyst Eno Sarris of The Athletic, there’s serious worry about whether we’ll ever see an elite Cody Bellinger again.

We might never get the peak version of this player again. He’s projected for an .811 OPS, more than 50 points lower than his career number and more than 200 below his peak, because he hasn’t played well for the past couple of seasons.

FanGraphs/Steamer is projecting a bit of a bounce-back for Bellinger — of course, really there was nowhere to go but up for the 26-year-old — .243/.331/.469, 27 HR, 79 RBI over 134 games. Certainly a far cry from his 2019 breakout season. However, he’ll be another year removed from shoulder surgery and hopefully still riding high after an October resurgence that saw him become the Dodgers’ best offensive threat in the postseason.

Related: Scott Boras Defends Cody Bellinger’s Down Year

As Sarris notes in his article, Bellinger showed signs of life with increased exit velocity toward the end of the year, but we’re looking at a very small sample size.

Cody will need to be ready to shoulder the weight of losing Corey Seager in the middle of the LA lineup. Unless Andrew Friedman pulls off some post-lockout magic and brings Freddie Freeman to the team, we’re looking at a reasonably worse product on the field on paper. 

NEXT: Health Still Biggest Factor in Clayton Kershaw’s Next Move in Free Agency

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  1. The Dodgers really don’t need Bellinger to be the MVP. They need him to play 150 games of Gold Glove defense and be a 25-75 type offensive player.

    • The Dodgers really don’t need Bellinger to be the MVP. They need him to play 150 games of Gold Glove defense and be a 25-75 type offensive player. Oh yeah, and stay in the strike zone! Take his walks

  2. He’s too rigid in his stance and his plate/pitch discipline is awful. Sure, he’ll have a moment here and there where hope for a breakout will look apparent, but regardless of him being fully healthy whenever this season begins, he’ll be his own worst enemy and the opposing pitchers know it. His first order of business needs to become a hitter, make contact and take the homer-runs when they come instead of pursuing them as he is failing at that.

  3. You never know what you are going to get with Bellinger, his OPS his first 5 seasons have begun with a 5,7,8,9 and 10, that is some kind of wild inconsistency. Safest bet would be something like 2018, which is more like the projections made in this article. His MVP season was an aberation, he was hitting close to .400 his first 175 ABs or so, he was either drilling the ball, or mishitting, and beating out infleid singles, after that, he was closer to his career average. Unless he radically changes his hitting style, he’s an easy out for elite or near-elite pitchers. He had 2 extra base hits in this recent post season, it wasn’t like he was tearing it up, and his lifetime post season OPS is .671, and he pretty much single handedly cost them 2 World Series, against Boston he was 1 fror 16 with no walks and a caught stealing, and against Houston he struck out 17 times in 28 ABs while hitting .143. His defense in center is over-rated, he was more elite in right field and at first base, he may have been negative on defensive runs saved last year. I don’t hate Belli as a player, he’s got a lot of talent, power, speed, and decent arm, and a lot of flaws, including hitting right into the shift even when he squares them up.

    • Why do we always seem to end up with these kinds of players? It spans multiple ownerships and front offices and it costs us in the biggest games. Strange

  4. I had hoped he’d be spending the entire off-season at the Dodgers’ facility in Arizona, having the experts work with him on his swing. But, the lockout took away that opportunity. He has shown that he doesn’t take instruction well, so I hoped it would be a demand from the front office.

    So, all we can hope for is that he will remind himself when he comes up to the plate that it’s a baseball bat in his hands, not a golf club.

  5. Belli is back…see playoffs. Just took a while to get his physical right and a minor adjustment at the plate. Recall those two big hits he got, one ending the Giants.

    • “Belli is back…see playoffs.”

      2020
      ——-
      regular season 213 ABs .239
      Post season 66 ABs .212

      2021
      ——
      regular season 315 ABs .165

      And then he has a VERY brief good streak:
      Post season 34 ABs .350

      He was waaay below average for 594 ABs, and then has a little success. Whoopeee.

      Even a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then.

  6. Some reasonable excuses? His health was a problem for most of the year. Then as Stan Musial once said “a slump begins in your swing, goes to your head, and winds up in your stomach.” That was Bellinger’s 2021 season.
    His MVP season was unfortunate because he was unbelievably – and unsustainably – hot for a few months leading folks to expect that production; that’s not him. Juan Soto he’s not. His 2018 slash 343/470/814 with a BA of 260 and 25 HRs is more reasonable and his excellent defense makes him an above average player despite his SOs.
    In 2020, he had an OPS+ of 112 and his defense mirrored 2019 when he won a gold glove. That doesn’t “kinda sucked.”

  7. Bellinger will return to the elite level if he just slows down is swing .1/10th of a second to gain some accuracy. It seems he must watch a lot of videos of his beautiful swing and is so enamored he just wants to swing even harder to see if it still looks beautiful..

  8. In the playoffs, Cody’s Average Exit Velocity was 94. In the regular season, that number would have led the NL.

    I realize its a small sample size but if this number was low his critics would chime in. I view it as a promising sign that elite major league skills don’t simply just disappear. Let’s wait and see.

    Hoping for the best in 2022.

  9. I honestly don’t care what the “projections” say or what the “projectionists” think. All I care about is whether or not Belli will be 100% for this upcoming season – if there even is a season.

    I saw signs from about mid-season on that he was getting back into form. The ball was coming off his bat better and better, he was really unlucky on some very hard hit balls too. Of course, most of his issues were, in my opinion, from bad pitch selection. His eye was just off – not recognizing pitches and he was swinging at balls that had NO chance of being called strikes. That might have been a sign of stressing out to perform though and just simply trying TOO hard to be MVP-level again.

    Either way, he came alive during the post-season, was very productive and super clutch. I truly believe that is the Belli we will see for this upcoming season – if we even have a season.

  10. 2022 should be Bellinger’s make or break year with the Dodgers. Same could be said for Gavin Lux also. It’s a shame that with all of the proclaimed talent that was drafted & developed in the minors along with elite players traded for & all the money that has been spent, all the Dodgers have to show for this is a shortened season championship. Say what you want, but a lot of opportunities have been missed!
    By both the players & the front office.

    • lux will end up being a better hitter. Cody’s swing is so long, he’s already a guess hitter. he has to cheat on 95 mph fastballs to have a chance. Cody swings out of his helmet, he swings so hard.He’s basically a modern day version of Dave Kingman. hopefully the dodgers won’t be dumb enough to give him 25m plus that boras will want if he hits even .250

    • That’s what the Stan Kasten curse gets you. Gotta wonder what kind of karma he’s got attached to him

  11. I don’t know about exit speeds or batting stance rigidity. What I do know is if the ball leaves the park in a hurry, or if a batter looks comfortable at the plate. Ultimately what I think about Cody, is that he is far too talented to stay in a rut for the remainder of his career. I had to chuckle, as the season wound down this year, when managers, doubtless in the throws of sabermetrics, didn’t take Cody seriously and ended up paying for it. Keep Cody healthy and we will have a chance to see what he is still capable of.

    • tempting for sure. I’d rather he hit .250 to all fields, and then add in all the D, etc. Hope Cody comes all the way back in 2022 (assuming we have a season)

  12. I watched some Dodger games from 5-10 years ago. Long balls hit on them we’re an adventure and they were decent teams. It made me realize that I have not seen plays in the outfield like those Bellinger (and Betts) make look absolutely routine and a long, long time. If he can hit a shade over .200, I would be happy having him on the team for defense, speed and attitude alone.

    • ” If he can hit a shade over .200, I would be happy having him on the team for defense, speed and attitude alone.”

      If he ‘delivers’ this scenario, he’ll never get another contract worth a damn…from ANYONE.

    • ” If he can hit a shade over .200, I would be happy having him on the team for defense, speed and attitude alone.”

      If he ‘delivers’ this scenario, he’ll never get another contract worth a daammnn…from ANYONE.

      • Bubbalousky, I can assure that everyone in the Dodger organization including Cody himself expects a way higher BA than .200. A .265 or .270 BA with 30 HR’S and 90 to 100 RBI’S would make many a folk happy. But as Ned Colletti once said, ‘if ya don’t have good starting pitching ya might as well go home’.

  13. Why is Freddie Freeman so important? Yes they need more offense to be elite, but they don’t need to be elite until the trade deadline. Imagine this lineup ;

    SS Trea Turner
    RF Mookie
    1B Muncy
    3B J Turner
    C Smith
    Lux 2B
    LF Pollock
    CF Bellinger

    Decent lineup, and of course it will come down to pitching like it always does. So spend the money on pitching, not on Freeman.

    • “it will come down to pitching like it always does”

      True. Two shutdown starters can/do win rings.

      • 2 shutdown starters can win rings when they aren’t dawning a dodger uniform. The dodgers can’t even win with 3 or 4

    • I notice you don’t have Taylor in your lineup. I like Lux, but he still needs to prove himself consistently. If that doesn’t pan out, having Freeman makes even more sense.

    • Yes I see a lineup of selfish players for the most part and lots of K’s. Doesn’t bode well for October.

      • The rest of Baseball has figured out the remedy to beat L.A.’s offense Don. Sliders and cutters in, then curves away in the dirt. All the L.A. Hitters are trying to launch homers, playing right in to curves in the dirt. How many times in big moments did the Dodger hitters whiff at junk in the dirt? Everyone else saw this except Drrrrrr and the Dodger hitters. They were all eager to be the hero and hit the bomb rather than move runners along and score the runs. Seager was the ONLY player that made his AB’s count with runners on in the past. he won the MVP’s hitting with power and situational hitting. Choking up, hitting the ball on the ground with runners on third and scoring the runs. Who ever they get, “IF” they get anyone, they better be a contact hitter that believes in Total bases before Hero status..

        • That’s on the ownership and FO. We always seem to end up with those kinds of hitters. I guess they just wanna win a championship their way instead of any way possible.

  14. I just wish Bellinger the best. If he bounces back, the Dodgers will benefit. That’s what counts! We want the Dodgers to succeed!!!

  15. Until Bellinger and a few others start thinking Contact instead of the “LAUNCH ANGLE” we’ll be watching this brand of Slump baseball for some time in L.A. If the Org would change their philosophy to TOTAL Bases, instead of Slugging percentage, they’d win more in the post season. Leaving runners on 2nd and third with no outs, all because they were trying to Launch Homers, and refused to scratch runs across with situational hitting was one of the many reasons they didn’t make it to the World series. When your lead off hitter who wins a batting title strikes out trying to smack homers, and leaves runners on base, something needs to change. Bellinger is a all or nothing hitter and one dimensional, once the league learned that he is a Fast ball 1st hitter, and loves high heat, he has been below avg.

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