According to the latest video drop, former Los Angeles Dodgers MVP Cody Bellinger has chosen the same method Yankees folk hero Matt Carpenter opted into to reverse his own career spiral: preseason sessions in Arizona with former Cardinals star Matt Holliday and his son Jackson, now in the Orioles’ system.
While Dodgers fans may remember Holliday most for fumbling one particular easy out in left field, Bellinger appears to be staking his career on the left fielder not dropping the ball this time.
Carpenter — once more thoroughly washed than even Bellinger, considering the collapse of his swing came at a more advanced age — rebounded from a 79 OPS+ in the shortened 2020 season and a 63 mark in 130 games in 2021 to hit .305 with 15 home runs in 47 healthy games with the Yankees last season, good for a wild 217 OPS+ mark.
The Yankees’ offense, even more impressively, completely fell apart without his presence following an Aug. 8 foot fracture on a foul ball. After his initial breakout, he credited much of the new swing’s success to a visit to Holliday in Stillwater, OK.
Now, it’s the 27-year-old Bellinger’s turn to visit the Holliday and Son Hitting Co., which could be a pretty important first step in his recovery … in Toronto, Colorado, Arizona or New York. Not Los Angeles. Sorry ’bout that.
Former Dodgers CF Cody Bellinger has joined Matt Holliday’s Hitting School at Oklahoma State
Bellinger’s 2022 “bounce back” campaign, following a surprisingly strong 2021 postseason (Braves say hello, Giants say hello), was an improvement only because he didn’t actively subtract WAR from the roster.
Belli was worth 1.2 WAR, most of it defensive, in spite of his 78 OPS+, 19 bombs, and .210 average. In 2021, the slugger hit rock bottom, subtracting 1.5 WAR from a Dodgers team that finished one game shy of the Giants in the NL West — before temporarily winning the fan base’s hearts back by snagging the lead in Game 5 of the NLDS with an RBI single (“Told ya I’d get that win back!”).
Finally, after three years of waiting for even half an approximation of his 2019 MVP form, the Dodgers decided to non-tender Bellinger in mid-November rather than pay his escalating arbitration cost. It appears, though the team is reportedly open to a one-year deal, that the player is not.
At least, not in Hollywood.
Wherever Bellinger lands next, he’ll be out for blood on a pillow contract, hoping for a long-term pact next offseason, when he’ll still be just 28 years old. If he’s able to pull a Carpenter and, uh, never miss, exclusively hitting dingers like a Matt Christopher character, a nice pay day might still be possible.