After winning his first MVP award in 2019, Cody Bellinger suffered the humiliation of being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of last season as he continued to struggle. After hitting rock bottom, Bellinger has been on a roll this season.
Since signing a one-year, $17.5 million deal with the Chicago Cubs, Bellinger has hit .331 .382 .557 with 17 home runs, 56 RBI, 17 doubles, a wRC+ of 150 and a bWAR of 4.0 this season. He was also recently named the National League Player of the Month for July, signaling that he has made a complete comeback.
The Cubs’ move to acquire Bellinger, who had struggled mightily over the past two years, posting a wRC+ of less than 100, is being hailed as a stroke of genius. As the Cubs contemplated their options at the trade deadline, Bellinger’s performance helped them make a bold decision to challenge for a postseason berth.
Making contact by leaps and bounds and evolving into a different hitter
A big reason for Bellinger’s complete resurgence this season has been his ability to make contact, which has been a consistent weakness since his rookie year.
In his first two seasons in the majors, Bellinger’s 31% swinging strike rate was among the highest among all hitters in the majors, and while he showed significant improvement thereafter, he regressed to being a very high swinging strike hitter over the last two seasons.
This season, however, his swinging strike rate has dropped to 19%, which is quite low even by league standards. This naturally led to a drop in his strikeout rate to one of the lowest in the league (15%), and Bellinger’s accuracy at the plate improved dramatically as his in-play at-bats increased significantly.
The biggest reason Bellinger has been able to turn a perceived weakness into an advantage this season is because he’s changed his approach at the plate. With a much shorter grip on the bat than in the past, Bellinger has consistently shown a balanced swing that focuses on producing contact and line drives, rather than the extreme, long-hitting upside of his previous swing.
Vastly Improved Offspeed Pitch Response Transforms Him Into One of the League’s Top Switch-hitters
Bellinger’s transformation has been remarkable by league standards, as he’s posted a 1.129 OPS and a nearly 4 percent walk rate against off-speed pitches (changeups, splitters) this season.
The reason Bellinger has been so strong against off-speed pitches this season is because he’s been able to make incredible contact against them, with a very low swinging strike rate (13%) and only three strikeouts.
Even though he struck out less against off-speed pitches than he has in the past, he generated a lot more contact, with a whopping 52% of his batted balls between 0 and 32 degrees of launch that were relatively likely to be hits. This suggests that Bellinger has been doing a lot more than just hitting the ball, he’s been doing a lot more sophisticated hitting this season.
With such a strong showing against off-speed pitches, Bellinger was able to get the upper hand in the pitchers’ count every time he stepped up to the plate and hit the pitches he wanted to hit. He increased his sweet spot percentage, which refers to pitches with an ideal launch angle (8 degrees to 32 degrees), to 38%, his highest since his MVP season, and posted his highest batting average (.331) of his professional career, establishing himself as one of the league’s best switch-hitters.
스포츠토토 This season, Bellinger once again proved his versatility at the plate, posting a +4.3 BSR (a composite baserunning metric that takes into account stolen base efficiency and the ability to advance an extra base) at the plate and a +6 OAA (an on-base percentage against league average based on real-time metrics) on defense while splitting time between center field and first base.
After being released by the Dodgers, Bellinger is back from the dead, but can he lead the Cubs, who are currently in second place in the division, to the postseason? With Bellinger set to become a free agent at the end of the season, Major League Baseball fans around the world are eager to see how big of a deal he can land in the 2024 free agency market, which will be thin on big names outside of Ohtani.