What Should The Dodgers Do With Cody Bellinger?

There is no question that Dodger’s first baseman/outfielder and reigning National League rookie of the year Cody Bellinger is struggling. Coming into today the second year slugger is in the worst slump of his professional career. Bellinger is batting just .180 (.180/.265/.390) in the month of May with five home runs and thirteen runs batted in. He’s hitting just .200 with a .693 OPS against left handers. Overall Bellinger is slashing .225/.298/.413 with 8 home runs and 25 runs batted in over 238 plate appearances. He’s walked 22 times while striking out in 59 trips to the plate.

There’s a good article in the LA Times from Houston Mitchell about Bellinger’s problems at the plate. It’s hard to know exactly what the problem is. The Dodgers coaching staff has claimed that Bellinger has some mechanical issues with his swing path. He does seem a bit stiff in the batter’s box and his swing is long and covers a lot of the strike zone, but there’s not much flexibility there. Often times we’ve seen him fall to one knee when finishing his swing and it can look as if he’s swinging out of his shoes.

According to the numbers (from the Mitchell article) Bellinger’s swinging strike rate has increased while his contact rate on pitches within the strike zone has dipped as well. In response the Dodgers have moved him into center field as Max Muncy has taken over the everyday first base duties. According to Mitchell Bellinger hits better when he’s at first base. This doesn’t surprise me either. It would make sense that Bellinger would be more comfortable at his natural position of first base.

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Could the National League be pitching Bellinger differently this season, compared to last season? That could be part of it. If you take a look at this heat map we see that Bellinger is getting more inside pitches this year than he did last year. Perhaps Bellinger is just not making the necessary adjustments. Baseball is all about making adjustments and young players can have issues doing that.

It’s hard to say what the solution is here. Oscar has openly called for him to be sent back to the minors. I’m not so sure that that’s a fix. There’s a big difference between Major League pitching and Pacific Coast League pitching. It may allow Bellinger to work on some stuff mechanically in a low pressure environment. However I think it would overall be detrimental and counter-productive for him . He’s already frustrated and sending him down may only further frustrate him.

Mitchell calls for him to be moved lower in the lineup. I concur with this. That might take some of the pressure off of him and let him get his swing back while also letting him relax a bit. If the Dodgers do move Bellinger back to first base, they can move Muncy over to second (as Mitchell suggested) and Joc Pederson can play center field. If they want to keep Muncy’s bat in the lineup and considering his good production they will.

Again there are no easy answers here. The sophomore slump is a thing. Bellinger has been unable to adjust in 2018. I think the best action to take right now is to let him try and play through it. Dave Roberts gave him consecutive off-days during the Denver series. Today Bellinger is back in the lineup at his familiar first base position and batting seventh as the Dodgers open a three game series against the Pirates at PNC Park. Is Bellinger a bust? I think the kid is far too talented be a bust, but we’ll find out over the next few weeks if Bellinger can find his swing again. Patience Dodger fans, patience.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda's Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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17 thoughts on “What Should The Dodgers Do With Cody Bellinger?

  1. Most have already expressed an opinion on what to do with Bellinger.

    Squirrel cubed in first inning. Great start.

    1. Hey we all saw him a few times Bluto. He’s had some good weeks since coming up. But nobody always saw him. He’s disappeared several times over the last 5 years. Squirrel. Gathers a few nuts occasionally. Hides nuts. Not seen when hiding nuts.

  2. Scott, is there another way for you to monetize the blog other than the dreaded pop up videos.?They have gotten beyond annoying, to the point I sometimes just click back and don’t even read. If you are locked into something I understand, if not please try something else.
    I say this as kind of a veiled threat, I’m thinking what if all the posters stopped until the pop ups went away?
    Scott, I am 10000% behind you making a few bucks, since you can never make enough to cover your actual time.
    But please KILL THE POP UP VIDEOS!!!!
    Remember the Buggles, video killed the radio star!!!
    Video make kill Scott Andes. Not really!!!!!!
    A little VERY friendly pressure everyone!!!!

    1. Tim,

      Yes there are other ways but I need to see if these videos are making anything first before completely removing them. If they’re not making us any money then I’ll immediately remove them. If they’re making something then that’s a different story. I’m not trying to annoy or inconvenience anyone. It’s really not that big of a deal. If you click the x, the video goes away. It’s not that big of a deal really.

      I’ll try and see if I can move the videos into the bottom of the articles, or at the least just make them not pop-up every time you click on the front page. But that’s going to take a bit of time as I didn’t write the code and my knowledge of their code is limited. I know you’re joking, but it’s not anything to get that upset about.

      1. The problem is that quite often it is a pain in the ass to get it to away. It popped up once while I texted this reply. On desktop maybe not as bad but mobile it sucks.
        Is nobody going to give me any credit for the Buggles reference?
        Come on old timers!!!!!

    2. Amen to all that Tim.

      The video has to be the highest paying ad here. It’s the most annoying so you know it gets seen more than the other click bait. I never open them, but I have with clumsy thumbs accidentally opened the video. BAM! A hit. Ka Ching!

      Here’s an idea… hey Scott, I’ll owe you a dollar if you dump the video. Who else is in?

  3. While I do believe that some time at OKC would benefit Bellinger’s confidence, there is not really a replacement for his defense anywhere on the roster, or at OKC. Muncy is adequate, but not great. Grandal has logged time there, but his defense at first is mediocre at best. The AAA first baseman, are Edwin Rios, and Matt Beaty. Neither of whom would be considered a very good defensive player. Rios is hitting over .300 since his promotion, but in only 8 games. Unless it gets really worse, I think he will most likely stay with the big club. Toles is 0-1 so far in his return from the DL.

    1. Michael, I fail to see why Muncy is not an adequate replacement for Cody, temporarily, at 1B. What is it defensively that you are concerned about? What has Muncy done defensively that you are concerned about?

      I would agree that having a long body like Cody’s would be an advantage for those long stretches that could determine an out at 1B, but other than that, I haven’t seen any shortcoming that is glaring in Muncy. Offensively, I would give a big edge to Cody and his potential. But it is offensively that the whole thread is about, not his defense.

      I’m good with whatever they decide at this point. We have enough bats now to get the job done without Cody’s homers so he can stay up and work through his problems or be sent down to work them out at OKC.

      How about Pederson! Are we witnessing a miracle? lol.

      1. Okay Jeff, first off, although he does have pretty quick moves and can make basic plays, he does not have Cody’s ability to scoop balls out of the dirt on throws and more than one have gotten by him over there. Cody saves a lot of errors. And if you read the post, I said he was adequate, but not great. The Dodger defense this year is pretty porous as it is. Cody is the best defensive option there. Don’t get me wrong, I like Muncy’s bull dog approach at the plate, and he is pretty versatile. For the short term, he is fine over there, but for the long haul I want that long reach and quickness to the ball that Cody has over there.

  4. Bellinger is close. OPS of 1.000 tonight.

    Good picks in the draft. All Major League talent, top to bottom. “‘we did emphasize trying to go with less medical issues this year,’ Gasparino said.“ Solid plan Gas man.

  5. My personal view is that while it is fun to watch Cody hit balls as far as he does, at this point in his development as a hitter, I think they cause more harm than good. I would like to see him take more of a Matt Kemp approach at the plate and hit the ball to all fields. That was what he did last year.

    1. He hit one to the left side, one to the right side and one up the middle. On a 3-2 count he took a pitch that could have easily been called ball four. It was a good night for Cody – and for the Dodgers. At this moment, 1.5 out.

  6. One of the areas of concern that no one is addressing is the amount of errors the Dodgers have been making this year. This is potentially more distressing than Cody’s batting problems. We used to pride the team on its defensive prowess. It seems to have slipped badly this year. Forsythe at 3B didn’t help, but he’s not there now and the errors continue. Would others think that all the switching that has gone on and is still going on is responsible for most of it? Players playing out of position?

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