While the Los Angeles Dodgers have had to contend for a division crown with former league MVP Cody Bellinger putting together one of the worst offensive seasons of any player in the league, they can take solace in the fact that AJ Pollock has helped pick up some of the slack on the offensive end.
The 33-year-old Pollock is hitting .295, which would be his highest batting average since his All-Star year in 2015.
With 24 doubles and 16 home runs on the ledger, his 131 OPS+ shows that he has been one of the best offensive outfielders in the National League this season.
As if their battle against the rival San Francisco Giants wasn’t tough enough, Dave Roberts confirmed that Pollock will be on the mend for a good chunk of time after leaving Saturday’s game with what looked like a leg injury.
Roberts confirmed that Pollock will likely be out for most of September after suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain.
With Pollock on the shelf for a minimum of 2-3 weeks, it’s on Bellinger to rise to the occasion and start hitting as he did during his fantastic 2019 MVP season.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger must step up with AJ Pollock out.
Bellinger has struggled to stay healthy all season long, but the regression from 2019 to this year has been equal parts shocking and disheartening. With a puny .556 OPS, a 51 OPS+, .169 batting average, and just nine home runs in 77 games, not only has Bellinger been bad, but his numbers look like someone who needs a demotion to the minor leagues.
The Dodgers can paper over the Pollock cracks with players like Chris Taylor and Zach McKinstry all taking turns in his outfield spot, but it won’t be as easy to replace his bat in the lineup. Bellinger needs to snap out of whatever funk he is, lest the Dodgers once again slip behind the Giants.
The Dodgers have lucked out in that they have a very balanced lineup featuring speedy leadoff guys like Trea Turner, mid-order mashers like Max Muncy, and all-around superstars like Mookie Betts, but that doesn’t mean that they should feel 100% confident in their lineup without Pollock just yet, especially of No. 35 is still stuck in the mud.
We’ve seen Bellinger hit like an MVP and come through in the postseason before, but whatever trance he has been in over the last few months is still causing some major havoc, as his timing looks completely off.
Even with those concerns, one big game or big series could be enough to snap him out of it. If Bellinger is still hitting like an Oklahoma City player deep into September and Pollock struggles to return to full health, LA’s October prospects won’t look as bright.