I’ll admit it, I had been incorrectly explaining what my eyes were seeing with Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger. A week to 10 days ago I discussed his swing change on our Blue Heaven podcast. In fact, what I should have been saying is a change to his setup and approach.
For when I get asked about what I meant with Cody Bellinger's swing. I meant more of his setup. Here are two early intrasquad games.
He's since adjusted closer to his 2017/2019 setup in the last image. pic.twitter.com/1ERRjVQ3Rp
— Clint Pasillas (FRG) (@realFRG) July 24, 2020
Early in summer camp, Cody experimented and dabbled with stances and swing triggers during the intrasquad games. From his hands to his hips to his feet, at the plate, he didn’t look like the guy that just earned the Most Valuable Player award a season prior.
As manager Dave Roberts noted, that was by design. After a monster first two months of the season in 2019, Bellinger came back down to earth. The then 24-year-old triple-slashed .262/.372/.561 from June first and onward. While that’s far from bad, his OPS was nearly 300 points lower than the first two months (1.213 to .933)
Obviously, those first two months were borderline legendary for the two-time All-Star. However, he — by his own admission — felt so bad in the second half of last season, he opted to make those adjustments heading into the 2020 campaign.
Ahead of Thursday night’s season opener, Belli chatted with am570 radio host Dave Vassegh to discuss the changes people saw. Moreover, he joked that the commentary made him leave Twitter for the time being because he “saw a lot of people freaking out.”
I didn’t change my swing, my swing will always be my swing. It’s just the preset. What we’ve [Cody, Rob Van Scoyoc, Brant Brown] talked about, it’s just going to be simpler… there’s so many things that go into it, but I didn’t change my swing at all.
So while there are visible changes to his setup no doubt, Cody said the real focus is on keeping it simple for the mental side of an at-bat.
It’s always a mindset in the game — you don’t want to be thinking about mechanics and that’s what I’ve been really good at lately, understanding an endgame mental approach.
Bellinger was quiet on opening night in Los Angeles, outside of a key double in the 7th inning. But he importantly looked calm and not overmatched against Johnny Cueto and the Giants. Comfort is the name of the game for a major league batter, so maybe getting out of his comfort zone briefly early in camp brought him back to where he needed to be.
You’re safe to come back to Twitter (for now), Cody.