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.
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.
Cody Bellinger vs. Fastballs:
2017: .263 BA, .547 SLG
2018: .268 BA, .517 SLG
2019: .327 BA, .661 SLG
2020: .236 BA, .358 SLG
2021: .155 BA, .366 SLG
Cody looks lost at sea right now, really hope he finds it soon. #Dodgers
— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) July 18, 2021
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.