Because, unlike his shoulder, Bellinger’s stance seemed entirely functional to us throughout the entire 2020 playoff run, culminating in a World Series victory polished off with one arm.
Bellinger returned to action this week after taking his rehabilitation from offseason surgery slowly, and when he did, he had a new approach at the plate to show for it.
Talk about “No Days Off,” right?
The former MVP’s first at-bats of 2021 came in a distinctly open stance; Bellinger maintained his posture, but certainly altered his set-up.
A side-by-side comparison with last year’s efforts gives his secret away immediately.
Why did Dodgers star Cody Bellinger change his batting stance?
We’re not sure if Bellinger’s simply trying to hold onto state secrets or not, but he insisted in an interview with MLB.com that the change is entirely about comfort, and has nothing to do with how he was being attacked with fastballs in the shortened follow-up to his MVP campaign.
"“I had a lot of downtime with the surgery, so I had a lot of time to think,” Bellinger said. “I’ve done it in the past, had success with it, and to be honest, I just feel really good with it.”Bellinger said the change in stance had nothing to do with the approach opposing pitchers took last season, or the fact that he hit just .236 against four-seam fastballs last year as opposed to .328 against the pitch in 2019. The change was all about comfort, he said.“Everything I’ve done is relatively close. It’s just a combination of learning throughout all my years of playing,” Bellinger said. “I feel confident with it.”"
2019 was all-world for Bellinger, who slashed .305/.406/.629 with a jaw-dropping 1.035 OPS, 47 bombs and 115 RBI to impress lovers of traditional statistics. Somehow, he only struck out 108 times, too, a total that feels almost prehistoric.
Dodgers fans should welcome anything that gets the slugger back to a level of comfort that approaches his in-the-zone 2019.
Of course, any healthy live at-bat he takes is welcome no matter what it looks like after the offseason preparedness scare his surgery gave us.
Los Angeles appears primed for a repeat, if all goes well (or, let’s face it, if even the majority of things go well).
At the very least, they’ll be the outright favorites on Opening Day and throughout the campaign.
A healthy, alert and balanced Bellinger only adds to their spoil of riches.