While he ranks second in all of baseball with 30 home runs in the first half, Cody Bellinger declined an invite to the 2019 Home Run Derby. Still, Dodgers fans will have a rooting interest in the contest; albeit not the lead dog.
However – Bellinger never provided a reason for not doing the contest in Cleveland this season – until now.
Just two days out from the All-Star break, Bellinger joined David Vassegh of AM570 LA Sports to share his reasoning.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) July 6, 2019
Bellinger says the reason he elected not to do the 2019 Home Run Derby was a matter of relaxation.
“It’s gonna be here in LA next year, so that’s gonna be a higher possibility. I just wanted to go this year and enjoy the first day and enjoy it. In 2017, I remember getting to the field and going anxiously throughout the whole day. You have to hit extra batting practice to get ready for the derby with no cages. So I just wanted to go there and relax completely the first day. I’ll definitely consider it next year in Los Angeles.”
Without question, the big league season is more of a mental grind than physical. For most players, the All-Star break gives them a few days from the rush and travel schedule of the regular season. While a few days doesn’t provide respite enough to fully recharge physically, it allows for a mental break.
This is not the case for those who travel to the Midsummer Classic. Therefore, Bellinger’s reasoning for not doing the derby is completely understandable. He has bigger accomplishments to chase in the season’s second half, such as a batting title, home run crown, and World Series ring.
The only thing I would add – there is no guarantee that he’s locked in for the derby in 2020 in Los Angeles. A lot can happen between now and then. For him to be a contestant, MLB would need a good reasoning. Let’s hope that Bellinger is having a similar year one calendar year from now in the power department so he can win this contest in front of the hometown fans.