Almost nothing has gone right for Cody Bellinger on the field this year. The 2019 National League MVP underwent offseason shoulder surgery, which could still be affecting his swing, and early in the season he fractured his leg, which caused him to miss almost 50 games.
Ongoing struggles have resulted in losing a starting job and being relegated to a platoon role when the Los Angeles Dodgers are at full strength.
While Bellinger has not inspired much confidence up to this point, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts still believes he can salvage what’s been nightmare season by not worrying about personal statistics.
“I think the No. 1 thing is a reset as far as where we’re at in September and make this his season,” Roberts said. “I think when you try to chase numbers to salvage a season, statistically, that can be hard and a toll.
“Continue to work, which he’s working tirelessly, and just try to come in fresh to help us win a ballgame. Even [against the Giants], we’re probably down a couple more runs if he doesn’t make that play in center field early in the game. Just keep doing whatever he can to help us win a ballgame.”
So far this season, the 26-year-old is hitting .160/.237/.295 with nine home runs and a 48 wRC+, which means he has been 51% worse than a league-average hitter. Bellinger also has a negative WAR at -0.8, so despite his positive defensive value, it has not made up for the lack of production at the plate.
The hope is as Bellinger continues to regain strength in his shoulder, he can start putting up stats closer to his career .259/.349/.515 batting line and 126 wRC+, which would be a massive boost to a Dodgers lineup that has been fairly inconsistent.
Bellinger making adjustments
If not for Chris Taylor aggravating his lingering neck injury, Bellinger may only have played in one of the three games against the San Diego Padres.
Roberts wanted to give him time off to continue working through a new batting stance and swing without the pressure of also being in the lineup.
“There’s a physical component, there’s a mechanical component. So just kind of getting out there with the hitting guys, baseball ops. guys and just being open to what’s working for him, what swing, different things we’re trying to dig into what could potentially give him better opportunities to be more consistent,” Roberts said.
“I think for me, the openness that Cody is having to trying to really figure some things out and not go with the mindset of continue to do what hasn’t been working, it might not pay dividends tonight in four at-bats but I do think in the shorter and longer term, that mindset, openness and willingness to evolve to work with a bat or swing that is conducive with where your body is at physically, is huge.”
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