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Dodgers: Cody Bellinger and the Sophomore Slump



Like I said to open this piece, not every rookie of the year can produce a sophomore season like Kris Bryant. Exhibit A: Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers brought up Bellinger towards the end of April in 2017 after a slow start. All Bellinger did was hit, hit and hit some more. He hit .267 and slugged 39 home runs and drove in 97 runs in just 132 games.

This season has not quite been the same for Bellinger. Through 53 games so far, he is batting only .234 with eight homers. He hit a solid .280 through the first month of the season but in his last 17 games, he is only batting .123. Along with his struggles at the plate, Bellinger has made mental errors this season. He was benched by Dave Roberts for not hustling on a double and bunted on a 3-0 count in the ninth inning of a close game. Bellinger is experiencing a sophomore slump so far in 2018, but will he bounce back?

Not every rookie of the year can produce a sophomore season like Kris Bryant. In 2015, the Chicago Cubs third baseman won the National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .275 with 26 home runs and 99 RBI. He won that award unanimously and led the Cubs to their first playoff berth in seven years.

As phenomenal as he played his rookie season, Bryant had a historic 2016 season. He made his second all-star game in his sophomore year while hitting .292 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI. He won the NL MVP Award and led the North Siders to their first World Series win in over a century.

Like I said to open this piece, not every rookie of the year can produce a sophomore season like Kris Bryant.

Exhibit A: Cody Bellinger

The Dodgers brought up Bellinger towards the end of April in 2017 after a slow start. All Bellinger did was hit, hit and hit some more. He hit .267 and slugged 39 home runs and drove in 97 runs in just 132 games.

This season has not quite been the same for Bellinger. Through 53 games so far, he is batting only .234 with eight homers. He hit a solid .280 through the first month of the season but in his last 17 games, he is only batting .123. Along with his struggles at the plate, Bellinger has made mental errors this season. He was benched by Dave Roberts for not hustling on a double and bunted on a 3-0 count in the ninth inning of a close game. Bellinger is experiencing a sophomore slump so far in 2018, but will he bounce back?

Exhibit B: Carlos Correa

Drafted as the first pick of the 2012 MLB Draft, Carlos Correa made his highly anticipated big league debut in 2015. He was called up in June and in just 99 games, the Houston Astros shortstop batted .279 with 22 home runs. He won the AL Rookie of the Year as he helped propel his team its first playoff appearance in 10 seasons

To begin his sophomore campaign, Correa experienced some struggles. Through May 28 of the 2016 season, he was batting jut .241 with 7 home runs. Despite the slow start, he worked his average up gradually through the season and finished with a stat line of .274 with 20 home runs and 96 RBI.

Correa then followed up that campaign by hitting .315 with 24 homers in 2017. He made his first all-star game and led the Astros to the World Series that season.

Exhibit C: Wil Myers

While Carlos Correa struggled early in his second season, he did not experience a year-long sophomore slump. To talk about a true sophomore slump, there is Wil Myers. Myers made his debut with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 and was among the game’s top prospects at the time of his call-up in June. In 88 games, he hit .293 with 13 home runs to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Myers followed up his rookie season by hitting just .222 with six home runs in 87 games his sophomore year. The Rays traded him to the San Diego Padres following that season as a part of a three-team deal.

By 2016, Myers returned to the producing the way he expected. He made his first all-star appearance that year as he hit 28 home runs and drove in 94 runs for San Diego. Proving that 2016 was not a fluke, he added 30 more home runs in 2017.

What Can We Expect From Cody Bellinger?

As aforementioned, Cody Bellinger’s sophomore year has been underwhelming. He has made a couple of mental errors and his production with the bat is well short of what we witnessed last season. While he is struggling, there is plenty of optimism to hold with Bellinger. He leads the Dodgers with his eight home runs and his defensive versatility brings value to the Dodgers.

Bellinger’s struggles seem like more of a slump than a major topic of concern. Despite his decrease in power, he strikeout rate is lower than it was a season ago.

 

Since we are only two months into the season, Bellinger can drastically improve his batting average with a couple of multi-hit games. Currently batting .234, if Bellinger goes 3-4 in each of his next two games, he will raise his average to a solid .254. While that is a lot to ask for, we have seen Bellinger have a hot streak for the Dodgers and carry the offense on his back.

Another note of optimism for Bellinger is the prestige of the Rookie of the Year Award. Since 2010, the winners from the National League have been: Buster Posey, Craig Kimbrel, Bryce Harper, Jose Fernandez, Jacob deGrom, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager and Bellinger. Other than Bellinger, all of those players made the all-star team after their rookie season, and three of them won the MVP Award.

 

Analysis

Bellinger’s sophomore struggles are not uncommon. We have seen it before with past Rookie of the Year Award winner and even through his slow start, Bellinger is still projected to hit over 20 home runs. Although his average and power numbers are down, he is a hot streak away from bringing his numbers back to a familiar stat line.

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Written by Arthur Cribbs

Arthur Cribbs is a journalism student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. He is a lifelong Dodgers fan and when he is not at school, he resides in Los Angeles.

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  1. Sophomore slump? Bellinger has been figured out, that simple. Millennial baseball needs to find a new tool besides homerun swing. Look at Joc. Same issues.

    • The Astro’s figured Bellinger out at the end of the World Series. Until he learns to hit the slow breaking ball, it appears he will be in the .230 rut for quite a while. What is Turner Ward getting paid for? To produce a line up of under achievers? Thank heaven for Matt Kemp.

  2. Until Cody gets his groove back, I just wished he would forget about “launch angles” and instead just get the barrel of the bat on the ball and hit line drives. Once he gets his timing and mechanics back in sync, he can focus on the launch angle again. GO BLUE!

  3. The League has caught on to the big swings by using the shift. Bellinger needs to learn how to go the other way even if it’s a bunt. And keep it up until they quit using the shift. Kemp has a big home run swing too but sometimes he cuts his swing down and flicks the ball the other way. You can’t just swing your a** off and hope for the best. Drop Belle to OKC for awhile and get his head straight.

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