Cody Bellinger

© Sarah Morris, 2020

From 2017 when Cody Bellinger won the National League Rookie of the Year unanimously, he has been a mainstay in the Dodger lineup. In 2020, although Bellinger had a difficult season offensively, he played a pivotal role in the Dodger postseason run.

Even as a rookie, Bellinger’s athletic play fueled the Dodgers. Originally, he was a first baseman, where he would eventually win a Gold Glove Award. However, sometimes driving to catch a ball caused his shoulder to pop out of the joint. Apparently, Bellinger has a loose shoulder joint. To ease the stress on the shoulder joint, the Dodgers moved Bellinger to the outfield.

In 2019, Bellinger won the National League Gold Glove for right fielders. His incredible speed and baseball instincts enabled him to get good jumps on fly balls. He cut off base hits quickly to prevent the opponents from taking the extra base, which thwarted many runs from scoring. Displaying a remarkably strong accurate arm, Bellinger threw out many runners, and seldom he threw to the wrong base and missed the cutoff man.

In preparation for the acquisition of Mookie Betts, in late the 2019 season, the Dodgers moved Bellinger to center field. He excelled there, even scaling the center field wall to steal potential home runs as he did in the 2020 NLDS against Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres. If Bellinger did not make that crucial play, possibly the Dodger would not sweep the Padres or advance to the NLCS. Bellinger’s stellar defense in center field played a crucial role in the Dodgers’ world championship.

While in 2019, Bellinger’s offense enabled him to be named the National League MVP, he struggled offensively. Sometimes, Bellinger’s swing becomes long and vulnerable to the inside pitch. During the 2020 season, the opposing pitchers pounded Bellinger inside, producing his frustration. At no time, he looked comfortable in the batter’s box.

Still, Bellinger had a .239 batting average, a .333 on-base percentage, 12 home runs, and 30 RBI in the 2020 regular season. During the 2020 postseason, Bellinger had 4 home runs, including the game-winning one in Game 7 in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.

Bellinger, barring injury, will play an integral role with the Dodgers during the 2021 season. His offense should improve with a full 162-game season, and his defense should remain the same or improve in 2021.

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