Dodgers: How 2022 will help Cody Bellinger return to MVP form

Michael Higgins
Apr 1, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) slides safely in to second on a double in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) slides safely in to second on a double in the fifth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Los Angeles Dodgers’ outfielder Cody Bellinger has been in somewhat of a slump ever since his MVP season in 2019. While every single player in MLB has been through some struggles ever since the pandemic-shortened season, Bellinger has truly been through the wringer.

In 2020, Bellinger posted a .239 batting average, which may be a misleading stat considering his OBP was .333 and he had a OPS+ of 112 (100 is league average). In this same season, Bellinger had a great postseason that led to a World Series trophy, so all is forgiven on that front.

However, he followed up that underwhelming 2020 campaign with an all-time terrible 2021 showing. Bellinger had a solid first couple of games before getting injured against the Oakland Athletics. This leg injury kept him out for an extended period of time and the two-time All-Star was never able to get into a rhythm after he returned to the lineup, dealing with injuries and position changes.

Then came birth of his first child, which, while excellent news, certainly played a role in Bellinger’s mind being elsewhere.

With all of the negatives out of the way, there are a great amount of positives to think about with Bellinger’s future. He just had a full, relatively normal offseason (despite the lockout), not dealing with shoulder rehab or any injuries. Heading into 2022, he will also have significantly lowered expectations from media and fans due to his struggles, which may help with his mental approach to the plate.

Throughout the 2021 season, the former MVP was constantly adjusting his batting stance and it was quite obvious he was never comfortable at the plate. Now that players are reporting to spring training following the lockout being lifted, Bellinger will have a month to put his practices in action and get himself adequately prepared and back on track before the competition starts holding weight.

There is, of course, the argument that he will see more difficult pitches now that the Dodgers have lost the lineup protection of Corey Seager … but this lineup is talented enough that it shouldn’t affect Bellinger’s looks too much. Trea Turner is sliding into Seager’s spot and the front office should be making one or two high-impact additions on that front, which will only help.

If we’re getting rid of the World Series hangover, injuries, personal distractions (whether good or bad), and time removed from troubling shoulder and leg injuries, we’d like to bet that Bellinger will be much closer to his star-studded form than his most recent disastrous showing when Opening Day arrives.

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