What Lies Ahead for Cody Bellinger?

While we’ve seen moments of a possible resurgence of a 2019 Bellinger this year, it hasn’t come close to full circle, and fans are starting to become restless about the former MVP’s future.

If you’re ingrained in any Dodger social media space, you’ve probably seen the Jerry Hairston Jr. rant on Bellinger in the Sportsnet LA postgame. Hairston made some excellent points, and with the postseason coming soon, it raises the question of how Bellinger will be used.

Several injuries in 2021 contributed to Bellinger posting the worst statistical regular season of his career. However, in the postseason, he recorded 12 hits and seven RBI; he also had some of the biggest and clutch Dodger hits.

This year, Bellinger currently has a batting average of .200 along with 17 homers and 55 RBI, and he’s also added 12 stolen bases. Surprisingly, he’s hit 17 homers, with his batting average. But the reasoning behind why fans are distraught is that he’s proven he could be so much better.

In contrast, during his MVP season, he hit .305 with 47 homers and 115 RBI. In his rookie year in 2017, he hit 37 homers with 97 RBIs.

This offseason, the Dodgers signed Bellinger to a one-year deal worth $17 million to avoid arbitration. He’ll be arbitration-eligible again this offseason. In 2024, Bellinger will be an unrestricted free agent.

If he continues to struggle into next season, the Dodgers will face the decision to cut ties with Bellinger after three disappointing seasons, which is a distinct possibility, as many free agents are looming for the Dodgers over the next couple of seasons.

Now that brings in the question, how will manager Dave Roberts use Bellinger during the playoffs?

With the surging Trayce Thompson and the number of potential outfielders the Dodgers have on the roster, Bellinger may be the odd man out. I’m not saying he won’t be on the postseason roster. In all likelihood, he will be, but maybe not a regular player or starter.

The main reason Bellinger has been able to start in center field has been his glove and the ground he can cover. At this point, Bellinger appears to be more of a late-inning replacement unless his bat gets going and he earns himself more starts.

It’s going to be very intriguing to see how Bellinger performs for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023 and what the Dodgers go regarding his 2024 free agency status.

15 thoughts on “What Lies Ahead for Cody Bellinger?

  1. Competition is a good thing. Bellinger has a lot of talent. If you listen to Harrison or Nomar whose opinion I respect Bellinger needs to attempt to make contact. The power will come. Freeman, T Turner, j Turner and Betts all look to make contact. All good hitters look for contact. Thompson has performed well and Gallo has his moments. Muncy too. But in the playoffs with premium pitchers guys need to hit the ball. Good things happen when you make contact. Currently i would play Thompson against right handers in center. He is hitting them well and it might make Bellinger understand he needs to change his mind set. Nothing else has worked, benching him for a week or two might get his attention.. Bellinger has not had a good year since his MVP year so I doubt he has an epiphany and starts to hit unless threatened with the loss of playing time.

  2. I don’t know if I’d be talking about 2024 about Bellinger. IMO, he’ll be lucky to get a contract offered to him this offseason. If he doesn’t improve, I could see the Dodgers non-tender him unless he takes a big pay cut from the $17 million he’s stealing this year.

    1. Cody pulls everything as hard as he can. Next year they will stop the defensive shifts opening up right field for guys that pull the ball no matter where it is around the plate. Guys like Bellinger, Gallo and Muncy to some extent will see their batting averages soar. Outlawing the shift may save Bellinger’s career or at least his ability to make high $ contract numbers. The last two years he certainly has not earned anywhere near his salary.

    1. Play him for what he is great at! use him as a utility guy. Don’t keep him in the line up. Use him as needed for a players rest or injury. The Dodgers for the first time have two guys Gallo and Thompson that can play any outfield slot. Have Taylor play in the infield when needed.

  3. Listening to Harrison’s remarks on Bellinger. This is why I do not think much of Roberts. Every professional ballplayer commentator has stated in the last several years that Bellinger will never hit successfully with his bat in that position. Bellinger is obstinate. So as a MANAGER you tell him to change his stance or ride the bench it is very simple but Roberts doesn’t have the backbone. Lasorda would have never let it get this far. Last playoffs he changed and hit. Why doesn’t that get through to him? It is mind-boggling. Bench him until he is willing to change. Easy Peasey. The Dodgers have guys that can play the outfield. It’s for his own good…

    1. Managers do not tell players anymore, they suggest. How do you know Bellinger is obstinate? He is using a stance that is comfortable for him. Only his coaches and his manager know how hard, or how not hard he is working. It has to be difficult for a player who experienced such early success using a style very similar to what he is using now, to now have such a bad stretch. I see guys using all sorts of different approaches, and still hit the ball. His swing is long, and the problem is that balls he used to crush, he is not catching up to. They are not going to bench a guy who is as elite a defender as Belli is. That is wishful thinking. He still strikes out at a lower percentage than Taylor, who has become the epitome of fruitily. I did notice he has quit choking up on the ball. Thompson, who has hit righty’s better than lefty’s, struck out 4 times in his latest start. Bellinger will have the entire winter to work on his hitting. I believe the kid wants to get better, and will.

      1. The definition of insanity is …
        Bellinger continues to have a stance that makes it impossible to hit the ball consistently. I believe Harrison and what other retired athletes like Nomar, Big Poppy, and ARod have said about his stance. Bellinger has been terrible with that stance for several years. Listen to Harrison’s rant. As he says you cannot hit consistently with the bat over your shoulder against major league hitting. Yes, you can hit in the batting cage but the MLB ain’t a batting cage! As I continue to say at the end of the day Ya Gotta Hit the Ball!! And he ain’t…

  4. No way Bellinger gets non tendered. And the reason is simple, they do not have his replacement in house. They would have to make a trade, and his trade value at this point is not very high. Do not tell me Thompson can replace him. Thompson is a very good outfielder, and has shown a lot of good things in his time here, but the guy is going to be 32 next season. Bellinger is 26. No way they give up on that kind of talent at that age. Outman has skills, but projects more as a 4th outfielder. The more interesting scenario, is what do they do with Gallo, who has really enjoyed being a Dodger. None of the kids are ready for prime time yet.

    1. Just wondered what stats you use to project Outman as a 4th outfielder?

      His numbers between Tulsa and OKC this year are .297/.395/.583/.978 and they were actually a slight bit better at OKC after his promotion than they were at Tulsa.

      He did just fine in the very short stay he had up here this year, as well.

      He’s a better than average outfielder who can play all three positions.

      Now, I’ll grant you that he hasn’t really proven anything in the majors yet, but just wondered why you figured he wouldn’t when finally given the chance.

      1. Looking at the depth of this team. I simply do not think he is the 3rd best outfielder on the squad. Now, next year, maybe some trades are made and room opens up, but until then, I have to go with what I have seen, which at this point is not enough to crack the starting trio.

      2. OK, thought you were referring to the future rather than this year.
        I can understand that you (and possibly AF) might feel he’s too unproven at this point to get a spot on this year’s roster, but next year………………………………

  5. As I continue to say playing guys that continue not to perform is a bad message to the team and its prospects. Belliner last time I looked was 2-27 !!! And you are telling me the Dodgers do not have anyone that can do better than that? Really? You and I Bear have disagreed about Bellinger for years. You keep saying to be patient and he keeps striking out. Thompson is very good defensively and Outman is very solid also. I am willing to bet you both hit better than 200. And you keep discounting Thompson. Baseball is a game of stats. Thompson is significantly better currently than Bellinger. So we get to disagree my friend. But that is the fun of it… They have not been able to get to Bellinger mentally sit him down…

    1. Hah, I feel like the idiot who tries to step between two guys who are throwing punches at each other, but here goes. I think you’ve both made some good points in the Bellinger debate, but I do have one comment to make to you Tmax, with regard to your following comment:
      “playing guys that continue not to perform is a bad message to the team ”

      Look how playing those guys worked out for JT, Muncy and recently for Kimbrel.
      It hasn’t worked so far for Bellinger and for CT3.

      I’m not saying I would have had the patience to continue playing the first three because I doubt that I would have, but I have to admit it’s worked out well for the team.

      1. Well Bear is a friend and I will inform anyone he knows more about the history of baseball than most people me included. He also has a keen baseball knowledge.
        If a guy is injured as Muncy might have been I believe the best solution was to have him rehab so he was 100% fit. You get in bad habits when you are compensating. As for J T I thought he was done as he was late on balls. J T has surprised me and i am happy he has turned it around. I loved listening to Harrison’s rant about Bellinger. It was exactly what most of us have written and other baseball veterans have said for several years about Bellinger’s stance. They will certainly pick up his last year in 23 but how do they get through to him? He has so much talent and is wasting it because he refuses to change despite his horrible numbers for the last several years. He is all about his Glory Days that should be his walk up song.

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