Dodgers: Cody Bellinger tinkers with swing despite MVP season

PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 09: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA - MARCH 09: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

Cody Bellinger returned to Los Angeles Dodgers camp with a new swing.

After winning the National League MVP Award last season, you wouldn’t think Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger would be worried about his swing, but after spending more time thinking about it during the coronavirus shutdown, the young slugger decided to change up his mechanics.

"“There is certainly a swing change,” Roberts said during a Zoom press conference on Monday. “I think that for Cody, for us, it’s just more of getting live at-bats, because you can work in the cage and batting practice, but sinking up new mechanics takes time.”"

Fans who have tuned into the intra-squad games have probably noticed the difference. After spending the past season watching one of the prettiest swings in baseball that took inspiration from Ken Griffey Jr., the naked eye might not pick up on the difference in Bellinger’s approach in summer camp, but it appears his front elbow is pulled back closer toward the center of his body as he awaits the pitch.

You can watch a video of the swing below.

Why would Cody Bellinger change his swing after winning the MVP?

Good question. And manager Dave Roberts was asked the same during his Monday press conference.

"“He won the MVP, but I think that for him, his words, he didn’t have a good second half,” Roberts said. “As he finished the season, he didn’t feel comfortable.”"

After a scorching-hot start to the 2019 season, Bellinger hit only .263 during the second half. Compared to his first 88 games, he saw declines across the board during the final 68 contests in his batting average (.263 vs .336), on-base-percentage (.371 vs .432), and slugging percentage (.546 vs .692).

Bellinger reported to Spring Training in March without any noticeable difference in his swing. Roberts said he tinkered with it during the coronavirus shutdown.

The outfielder recently talked about the minor changes with the Los Angeles Times.

"“There’s always small things in your swing you realize [are] what make you good,” Bellinger said. “You just try to be as consistent with those as you can. I just had that extra time to work on it in a stress-free environment.”"

Obviously, the Dodgers hope he quickly acclimates to the new mechanics as the season is set to begin in ten days when the San Francisco Giants come to Dodger Stadium.

Over a 60-game schedule, a hot or cold streak could dictate how a player’s final numbers will look. There isn’t much time for easing into a new routine, so everyone will be forced to make adjustments, while trying to remain confident in the process.

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Bellinger was batting .250 during Cactus League play in March, with only one home run. Perhaps that was enough to prove to him the issues from the second half of last season required attention. Over his three-year Dodger career, he has hit 111 home runs while slashing .278/.368/.559. He hit 47 home runs during his MVP campaign in 2019.