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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Has No Answer for Cody Bellinger’s Extended Struggles



Don’t look now, but Cody Bellinger has been on the struggle bus offensively for longer than you may realize. On the season, his batting average dropped to .168 after an 0-4 afternoon in Colorado. Since May 21, 2019 — the last day his average was over .400 in his powerhouse MVP season — the slugger has 176 hits in 736 at-bats. That’s a .239 average.

One of the key differences in the eyes of Dave Roberts? Back then, Belli was a “hit collector” more than a slugger. Moreover, ahead of Sunday afternoon’s extra-innings loss in Colorado, Doc was asked about Cody’s extended struggles since that otherworldly first half of 2019 where the numbers just aren’t the same.

The game’s not easy. He’s working tirelessly… he’s just trying to compete. Really… I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. I do understand the question, it’s very fair… The defense has been next level. As far as the offense — I’m not trying to sidestep the question — that elevated fastball at times is getting him. I still think he controls the zone really well, it’s just when he does get pitches in the zone, he’s got to move them forward.

Understandably, it was a nuanced start to an answer from a manager that avoids throwing his players under a bus — or even a Geo Metro — at all costs. Mostly. But reading between the lines of the answer and it seems like the Dodgers really are just plainly lost when it comes to the struggles of Cody Bellinger.

Related: What’s Wrong With Cody Bellinger’s Swing in 2021?

Dave continued.

I think for me, for Cody, when he was really good in 2019, he was a hitter first and the slug followed. He was using left-center, he was using the middle of the field, right-center field. And then breaking balls in the zone, he would slug those to the pull side. If he could go back to being a hit collector, using both gaps. I think that’s a great start. But the game is not easy, hitting is not easy. But I expect him to get to that point.

In 2020, Bellinger toyed and tinkered with his swing for most of the shortened 60 game season. In 2021, he’s played in only 37 of 94 games while dealing with a fractured leg and a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for a majority of the season. Additionally, offseason shoulder surgery kept him from swinging a bat in earnest until midway through spring training.

It could be that the myriad of maladies just still has the 26-year-old searching for his timing. Thankfully, with the second half of the season having just kicked off, there’s still plenty of 2021 left. A 1-12 start certainly doesn’t help, but returning to Dodger Stadium where he has a career .257 batting average (and .875 OPS) can start getting him pointed in the right direction.

The Dodgers welcome the Giants for 4 and the Rockies again for 3.

NEXT: Dodgers Have a Plan Ready For When Max Muncy’s Wife Goes Into Labor

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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    • Kingman, what’s say Roberts then at least drop Cody down further in the lineup, like maybe 6th, where he was a good part of 2020 or even bat him 7th and move Pollock up in the order. That would make at least some sense.

  1. All the big dummy needs to do is get back to the BASIC fundamentals of hitting! Read what Ted Williams wrote on what he thought was important to do. Watch films of Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth. Talk to Pujols…geez! Cody ain’t following the basic fundamentals that even I know-like keep your head still while swiinging, keep your eye on the ball all the the way to the moment of contact. There ain;t nothing that is rocket science here-just the same stuff even Little Leaguers are taught. C’mon Cody!

  2. Here we go again, a big clog in the lineup. Just cut down on the wild flailing, work down on the top hand and shoot for line shots up the middle from gap to gap. I have mentioned this many times before. At least make a concerting effort you’re trying to improve. You’re back to the same old- same old and it’s not working, make changes to get production.

  3. Really? So what else is new, besides Roberts having really no clue. But his stance, approach at the plate, swinging under pitches right down the middle and so on. He looks like he’s in a daze up there and lost because he can’t seem to adjust. Oh, maybe nothing to do with it but foe Pete’s sake he needs to visit a barber and soon. But Roberts has no business having him lead off or batting him 4th. I’m just not quite sure he can turn it around this year to be honest.

    • Roberts is Clueless in a lot of things!! Doesn’t know how how to set a lineup, even an all star one!! Quickly becoming the worst All Star Manager!!! Anyway, back to Bellinger. Remember back then when Roberts pulled him in the middle of a game against the Giants!! At the time, the best Dodger production player!! He questioned his lack of hustle in front of the whole baseball world!!! there had to be residual damage from such an overreactive manager stunt!! A player/manager relationship will never be the same after such a public humiliation!! Cody is still a tremendous talent that has simply been mishandled! The early season injury did have an impact. Paul, you’re right about the batting stance. He needs to review the footage of his old self! And yes there is also a mental issue going on!! A new Do wouldn’t hurt too. Yes, Roberts has no business putting him leadoff or cleanup!!?? Muncy batting 2nd!!?? He is the true cleanup!! Suggest batting him 3rd in front of Muncy. At this time, pitchers would rather pitch to him than Muncy. He would see more hittable pitches.. They will try to avoid walking him to prevent a possible 2 run homer. He’s still very young and quite fixable!! The manager is another story.

  4. Belli, has been terrible for more than a year. We don’t need anymore data or analysis to tell us he is lost at bat.
    He needs to go to AAA and establish his swing. Any replacement is better than in the lineup.
    If he can’t find it by Sept., look for big paycut next year. He is not a critical player for us at this stage.

    • He has been terrible since the second half of his MVP year and he is living off 1/2 of a very good season

      • Jerry, this is very true. Its when Roberts started tampering with him. Couldn’t leave a great thing alone!!

        • Tampering? After one year Cody thought he was too good to leg out grounders, shorten up, shoot the gaps etc. He managed to get back to that in 2019 for one half and since has been a bum. Had some clutch hits when it mattered last year but mostly is unwilling to go back to that

        • Tampering? You mean PAMPERING. The media built him up as the next great superstar. 2019 he won the MVP by default because he had a fast start off the homers, then he faded in the 2nd half but did just enough to stay with Yelich until Christian got hurt and out of the race. Because he was the front runner and his defensive plays made him the MVP. Since that 2nd half the league caught up to him and exposed all his holes. Cody even admitted “it was a very humbling experience for personal reasons. I needed to find a way to be more consistent with myself”. So he’s saying he needed help to improve. First he needed to come back down to earth, refocus, and be more disciplined.

  5. Put Belliger in the 7-8 hole until he understands that making contact is more important for him and the team than swinging for the homer. Contact first and the power comes naturally like in 2019.

  6. Because Doc is a wimp in confronting Belli. Rememember the first yr. when Doc pulled him from the game for not hustling a triple in Giants stadium? Well what happened to the discipline and coaching? I have never seen Doc in the dugout talk to him on a bad AB or talk to him on strategy before a crucial point of a rally. All Belli is thinking “ I’m the 4th batter so hit the dinger or striking out is no big thing”. All wrong wrong wrong on both sides.

    • You are Totally WRONG! Its because of Roberts that has damage this player!! I’ve seen your ‘Doc’ maketblunder after blunders. Can’t win even with a dugout full of All Stars!!! I agree he should not be batting 4th. It should be Muncy!!!! If anyone needs a ‘talk to’ its Roberts. He is the BIGGER Problem. How the H. . .do you know what’s he’s thinking. You sound more like a Giant fan!!

      • FYI, I am not a Giant fan and I have questioned many of Doc’s moves. The game @ Giants stadium was Doc’s and Belli’s 1st yr. together where Belli had hit a ball in triple’s alley and lolli-lagged for a double only. At the time Doc wanted to set a precedent of no matter what you have done, nobody is a prima-donna on this team. The manager is responsible for the team’s attitude and performance. You cannot baby the players and must correct any wrongs immediately. This is where he has lost the discipline and unselfishness of some of the players. Belli believes w/ all the hype about winning the MVP, and batting in the 4 hole, his job is to hit homers and only homers, w/ no regards to the situation @ hand. They say the hitting coaches are working w/ him, but until tonight he hasn’t bought in. He was still flailing wildly, missing under many centercut balls, weak slicing pop-ups, and only hitting sky- high fungo balls w/ no carry. If he was listening to advice you would see that he’s trying to make changes to his approach, swing, situational hitting, and hard contacts. However, tonight he shortened his swing w/ 2 strikes and went oppo line drive. But yeah, Doc learned from his mistake along w/ many other experienced managers. All managers make their mistakes but don’t admit it.

      • Martinez, haven’t you notice dugout full of All-Stars are underachieving? They have good days and bad days, just like the manager. Have you been to the games and watch what is going on in the dugout? I guess not, TV and radio broadcasts does not tell the whole story of behind the scenes. I go to games and have a clear view of the whole dugout and observe the interactions between Belli, the coaches, and Doc….. along w/ everybody else. You sound more like how Giants fan complain.

  7. I have noticed that Bellinger is swinging through the pitches. It is almost like his timing is good but the miss is a low swing but mainly upper swing just misses. So his eyes are following the ball but the bat is off. Only he can make adjustments to his swing. I have to give this MVP every chance he needs. Kinda like Muncy did. He totally made the adjustments with outstanding results.

    • you got to understand. Cody has been swinging this way from the age of 10, with great success. So for him to change now after 15 years of success is really difficult – that’s a lot of muscle memory and deep seated neurons-firing to overcome. That’s why we celebrate hitters like JT, CT3 and Max, that mid career had to change or exit the game. C’mon Cody – you can do it. Opposite field hitting, let the ball travel deep, hard contact and no fly balls!! We are all pulling for you!

  8. The guy’s hitting .168 for crying out loud. He shouldn’t be batting anywhere in the lineup right now. Want to give him a wake up call, send him down to Oklahoma City in the way back machine with Sherman until he remembers what he was doing 2-3 years ago. Boy’s got issues

    • He needs to be sent down now, and not later. I don’t see him figuring anything out anytime soon. They could put darn near anyone in to replace him. Heck, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a replacement who can hit better than Belli. If he doesn’t get his head straight soon he may just find himself playing in the Independent League. Watch his face after one of his persistent strike outs, he has a look of someone who doesn’t care or if it is no big deal. Sooner or later this is going to carry over to the defensive side and he will cause more damage to the team than anybody.

      • Ten times rather have Urias at the Plate than Bellinger. He at least makes an effort to put the ball in play.

  9. Management needs institute a mandatory grooming code.
    And fast.
    Haircut’s and Shaves, all of them.
    Then….. A freaking lesson how to wear the Dodger Uniform.
    These guys a disgraceful.

    • Yeah, I thought the hippie look is back….looking dopey, or Hobo the clown, or even a Toomgiss look-a-like.
      Someone once told me a man hides behind a beard or mustache is an insecure person w/ little confidence. With the heat wave around the country, the guys’ long hair adds unnecessary additional heat to the body and slows you down.
      Wear the Dodger uniform w/ pride and look professional. The ragged look makes you slow and sluggish creating sloppy and lazy play.

      • i hope those folks calling for haircuts for bellinger were also doing the same for justin turner those three years he had HIS longer hair (and beard, which he still has). personally, i do not CARE what someone’s hair looks like–if they like it and are comfortable, then it’s whatever.

        as for CB’s problems…he hasn’t been healthy for 2-plus years. i’m sorry, but a BROKEN leg is going to give a guy problems for longer than just the time it takes to remodel (calcium deposits to knit the fracture). and it DEFINITELY will remain in the person’s head for awhile. certainly capable of throwing a guy’s swing and rhythm off. he may not be right until next year, but i believe that, with a full, healthy offseason, CB will be back in style. or if LAD has another long postseason run, maybe CB finds it earlier than next year. he DOES need more reps, but AAA and minor league pitching only goes so far in prepping guys for big league pitching.

  10. Bellinger’s defense alone warrants him being in the lineup. But 7 or 8 hole is right spot at this time.

    • yes that’s true. Dodgers lost enough games with subs in CF and RF for sure. Drop him down to 6th where he belongs. Dodger RH bats go 1,3,5,7 and LH 2,4,6. And start having him hit opposite field. When he’s on that’s when he is best. Especially with the shift on him. But, how critical is it that we have basically 1 LH bat in Max, and everyone else sucks. That’s why we need Corey back big time. The order established last year worked to perfection (if there is such a thing in baseball)
      Betts
      Seager
      Turner
      Muncy
      Taylor
      Bellinger
      Pollock
      Smith
      Pitcher

    • Bat the pitcher 8th & Belli 9th. At least the pitchers are making contact and getting hits, Belli’s AB turns into a rally killer. Got to shock his brain and snap out of it.

    • Trade him to Baltimore for Mancini. Belli should not be anywhere be considered untouchable. Send him to Baltimore and a pitcher’s park. Maybe then he might get is average up all the way to 200. Belli is a wasted at bat and hitting him 9th is not a bad.

  11. The manager and hitting coaches remind me of the captain on the Titanic – clearly Bellinger is foundering -someone (Robert’s or one of the hitting coaches) have to step up and take charge of this situation – If a pro golfer was hitting golf balls as poorly as Bellinger is hitting baseballs, that golfer would be with video and the swing coach immediately – at a minimum they need to try some changes in the setup and/or swing mechanics and see what works

  12. Cody is either believing he can hit a home run every at bat or someone in the organization is pushing him to swing for the fences. I would send him to one of the minor league camps and let him learn to just have fun doing what he does best, hit the ball. He has a monkey on his back and he will not shed it in Los Angeles.

  13. His stance is straight up and down. His bat is is flat back on is shoulder. His knees have no flex.
    He has to make to many movements and that causes him to be late on catching up on the fastball.
    He tries to pull everything causing his head to be yanked off the ball. You cant see it you cant hit it.
    I cant understand how he hasent broken his right anklle the way he rolls over it. And last but not least he is hitting up on everything.
    He needs to sit until he changes his approach
    Talent is there, willingness does not appear to be.

  14. Belli is consistently swinging way under the ball — it is not timing.
    one adjustment I used when I coached high school: hold hands much higher to start with — and keep them there. there is an axiom: you can’t hit a ball above your hands. all teams are now getting Belli out on a steady diet of high fastballs. so go in the cage and work on getting on top of the ball.

    then there is his turning his head — keep it still, eye on the ball — and collapsing on low pitches.

    and his approach: agreed with so many others that he should be made to hit the ball to the left side to beat the shift and even drive the ball to left or left center gap.

  15. The old saying “you can’t steal first base” is so true here. Give me a day with him and I will at least have him making contact. It’s pitiful to watch that huge over swing with his head pulled out. There is no way he is going to make contact and if he does it’s always a pop up. Little things like lowering his hands lower in the zone and trying to hit it back thru the middle will help. Look how they overplay the shift to the right side, shows he is trying to pull everything. He needs to go down to the minors to be worked with. Heck evEn Kingman could bat 240. Go back to the basics!!!

  16. Holy s**t, Roberts is really getting trashed from our television fan. We see the game as it is played out but have no emotion with the Dodgers staff and management. So we call it like we see it….
    Most of us are not just fans but passionate to the point we all write in and say for the most part how we feel about the game. We really have no favorites really, It can always be someone who pulled us through a tough game. We dislike losing and for some we wager on the game either a hand shake or something. Thats the point.

  17. Bellinger’s bat has gone to the same place as Matt Kemp’s did…it fell into that huge ego-hype hole. He is clearly trying, nobody can say he isn’t. And is is still clearly lacking the ability to go back to basics, clean up the swing thoughts, go the other way, up the middle sort of approach slowly recovering the timing.

    Plus the shoulder injuries might have affect his arm strength overall? He is a really fun defender to watch but his AB’s are just horrid to watch him flail away like the Guy Sularz or Joe Pettini. Maybe he will turn out to be the guy who breaks out of the sabermetrics approach to the game and realizes it is the fundamentals which made him a player idolized by kids everywhere….until it stopped.

    I have also not liked the expressions I see on his face at most time in interviews, etc…he looks far too pleased with himself. Like Kemp he gives off a vibe of him banking on what the sycophants tell him how great he is. Kemp never got out of the “look at the wonderful me” mindset, one hopes Bellinger doesn’t follow the same path.

  18. I can’t even stand seeing him bat. He’s as automatic an out as I’ve ever seen in baseball. Has no business in the lineup and needs to be sent down to figure things out. I realize Dave Roberts is very stubborn and will continue to not only play him, but bat him leadoff and even cleanup, but where’s Friedman in all of this. He should be forcing a move – either to the bottom of the lineup or to OKC.

    • here’s a thought. when in an AL park and the DH is in play, bat our pitcher 8th and a DH for Cody!! Not that he can be any more embarrassed than he already is. Poor guy, well actually no he has 11 million reasons to be happy but to know millions watch him flounder at the plate every game has got to be humbling

  19. Bellinger’s hitting is abysmal. Not only are his AB’s ugly, he is beginning to look more and more like a single A player when he’s in the box. Apparently doesn’t see the ball well, and missing contact by a lot of air space. The numbers don’t lie and over the last month he’s hitting just .107. Roberts continues to be “puzzled” but takes no action. Bench him, send him down or do something but putting Cody Auto-out on the lineup card isn’t helping the team or himself. Maybe he just ought to start crowding the plate and see if he can take some for the team and get on base that way?

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