Dodgers fans already know that Cody Bellinger isn’t playing the way he is capable. Entering the weekend series against the Astros, Belli carries a weak .714 OPS, a far cry from his 2019 NL MVP campaign.
It isn’t just the fans that have realized how badly Cody has struggled, though. Our Blue Heaven Podcast got to chat with ESPN insider Buster Olney this week about everything Dodgers related. One of the things that came up was Cody Bellinger.
— Blue Heaven (A Dodgers Podcast) (@BlueHeavenPod) September 12, 2020
In talking to experts around the league, Buster felt like he might have found the hole in Belli’s swing.
It’s funny, today I talked to some evaluators, and they think he needs to back off of the plate. That he is continually getting beat with fastballs. It’s amazing if you go to Fangraphs, and you look at the damage he did against fastballs last year versus what he is doing this year. They have a value chart, and last year the number was +30. This year the number is -3…
It’s no secret at this point that Bellinger is getting beat by those fastballs, especially when they up in the zone. His strikeout rate has not gone up dramatically, though his walk rate has taken a decent hit. Bellinger also isn’t barreling up balls nearly as often as he was in his MVP campaign. He hit more than 100 points higher on fastballs in 2019 than his .224 mark with the Dodgers this year.
Buster was of the opinion that something needs to change with his approach, and soon.
What I got back a lot of was that he needs to do something different than try to loom over the plate and take away the inside corner the way we see Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs do. Maybe a better solution for him is gonna be what Jason Heyward did this year which is actually to back away from the plate a little more. Because the guy is a phenomenal athlete, he’s a lot better of a hitter than what he is showing so far.
With a slash line of .211/.292/.422, it’s sort of amazing that the Dodgers have the best record in the league. Fortunately, production comes from all around heir lineup in 2020. Having Mookie Betts added into the mix certainly helps things. But if they can get Cody even close to his 2019 production, the Dodgers lineup will be virtually unstoppable.