Dodgers: Cody Bellinger Continues his Impressive Early Start
The Dodgers are only a few games into the 2019 season and are proving to be one of the hottest teams already. Cody Bellinger is a big factor behind that.
As of April 3rd, the Dodgers are 4-2 and in first place in the NL West. In those six games, Bellinger already has five homers (one of which is a grand slam) and is batting .429.
In 2017, Bellinger’s rookie year, he had unreal stats behind him that proved he was going to be one of the best young hitters in all of baseball. With 39 home runs in 132 games, many were excited to see where 2018 would take him. When the 2018 season came around, Bellinger noticeably struggled in his sophomore season.
Though he played in 30 more games in 2018, his numbers took a hit across the board. He had only 25 home runs and 76 RBI. His OPS also took a hit, dropping from .933 to .814. For most players, this would be a highly successful season, but compared to his rookie year, these stats were not optimistic.
With the 2019 season approaching, it was a critical year for Bellinger.
Early on in his career, he had always struggled against left-handed pitchers, which is the reason he never saw much playing time against them. In his career, Bellinger has had 351 at-bats with 19 home runs against lefties. This is opposed to the whopping 714 at-bats and 50 home runs against righties.
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Last season, his struggles were evident, as Bellinger hit only .226 against lefties. This year, though a small sample size, he’s hitting .300 against them. Now that Dave Roberts entrusts Bellinger against left-handed pitchers, he is proving that Roberts made the right choice. His last home run, a towering grand slam, was hit off of ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner.
In year’s past, it would almost be a guarantee that Bellinger would be benched should a left-handed pitcher be starting. Now, he’s worked to assert himself in the everyday lineup, and it’s paying off.
With Bellinger playing every day, it opens up more versatility for him and the team. Since he is able to play right field and first base, this opens up more opportunities for guys to switch around and get more playing time.
As mentioned, it’s only been six games, and the sample size is small. But, if Bellinger is able to maintain this, and continue to hit left-handed pitching, we could be in store for a special season from the 23-year-old.