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Thursday, October 13, 2022

Column: Dodgers at some point must figure out what to do with Cody Bellinger

In 2019, Bellinger was the league’s most valuable player, and its leader in WAR, with a 1.035 OPS. In the postseason, he batted cleanup.

In 2021, he batted .165, with a .542 OPS. Of the 132 NL players with at least 300 plate appearances that season, he ranked 131st. He struck out more than ever. When he hit the ball, he hit it hard less than ever.

The Dodgers had reason to hope Bellinger’s 2021 was an aberration.

He started the season late as he recovered from shoulder surgery, then spent time on the injured list because of calf, hamstring and rib injuries.

The calendar turned to 2022, and to spring training. The games did not count, but the signs were not good. Bellinger batted .139 last spring, with no extra-base hits and 18 strikeouts in 36 at-bats.

In the regular season, the Dodgers gave 500 at-bats to five players. The other four — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Trea Turner — each were at least 20% above league average, according to the OPS+ statistic. Bellinger was 20% below league average. He struck out even more often than he had in 2021.

The Dodgers hope to push off talk of the future, at least through the end of the month. At some point, the Dodgers will have to decide whether to retain Bellinger — his salary next season is estimated at $18.1 million, according to the MLB Trade Rumors projections — or consider ways to get more production out of the position.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 13, 2022 at 02:56 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cody bellinger, dodgers

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2022 at 04:59 PM (#6100776)
He still had 1.2 bWAR ... somehow. CF leaguewide is a bit of a drought ... sorta doubly so in that some of the top ones like Judge and Springer are probably more "true" RFs than CFs and even teams like Hou, Tampa and Cle just run speedsters out there. Myles Straw had 596 PA for Cle, hitting 221/291/273!! Darrel Chaney hit better than that.

Other than C, CF was the worst-hitting position this year (by a smidgen relative to SS and 2B). Only 11 teams got a 700+ OPS out of CF and the Dodgers were 12th (I assume that's Betts and Taylor). 7 of those top 12 made the playoffs ... but so did 5 of the bottom 8 (Phi, Hou, SD, TB, Cle) ... apparently what you don't want is an average-hitting collection of CFs. :-)

But yes, you pretty obviously non-tender Bellinger. You might offer to re-sign him at $8 M or something because, unless they sign Judge, they're not likely to find anything better. But you definitely walk away at $18 M (abs min via arb would be $13.6 I think but that will never happen).

at least 20% above league average, according to the OPS+ statistic. Bellinger was 20% below league average.

It still doesn't mean that.
   2. The Duke Posted: October 13, 2022 at 07:35 PM (#6100805)
The Cardinal analytic nerds all think Jeff Albert is the best hitting coach in baseball - I'd like to see Albert get a crack at him. I'd become a believer if he fixes Bellinger.
   3. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: October 13, 2022 at 08:03 PM (#6100807)
But yes, you pretty obviously non-tender Bellinger.

If they do that, the Red Sox should pick him up. Their OF is just rubbish anyway and who knows, maybe a change of scenery gets the bat back to league average and he's ok with the leather in CF.
   4. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: October 13, 2022 at 09:22 PM (#6100815)
He still had 1.2 bWAR ... somehow.

It's tough to play an entire season (Bellinger had 550 PA) without having some value...although of the 99 players with that many PAs, four players (Nick Castellanos, Andrew Vaughn, Charlie Blackmon and Yuli Gurriel) managed to have a negative WAR in 2022.
   5. Russlan is not Russian Posted: October 14, 2022 at 12:31 AM (#6100826)
How good are the Dodgers though? A young MVP cratering like he has would be devastating for so many franchises. For the Dodgers, it appears to have been as impairing to their success as losing a middling relief pitcher to injury.
   6. Cris E Posted: October 14, 2022 at 10:32 PM (#6100842)
He might have caught what Gallo has and he may not get better, but at least he can catch a ball in the outfield. These days that has value. I'd trade him for a lottery ticket arm or something. They clearly don't need anything right now.
   7. Buck Coats Posted: October 15, 2022 at 12:14 AM (#6100844)
What team would trade anything for him? At 18.1 million he has negative trade value.
   8. base ball chick Posted: October 15, 2022 at 11:51 AM (#6100862)
I disbelieve that some tream is gonna pay 18 mill for him. Dude needs to go see whatever hitting coach rehabilitated matt carpenter. or JD martinez. because his bat is limper than overcooked pasta
   9. The Mighty Quintana Posted: October 15, 2022 at 12:04 PM (#6100865)
It's like Kyle Tucker stole his game...when I watch Tucker play I see Bellinger from four years ago.
   10. Cris E Posted: October 15, 2022 at 01:50 PM (#6100889)
You're right, no one can pay $18m for what's he's given the past couple years. If he won't sign a lower deal with performance riders he's going to be cut. LA does have a bit of leverage, in that they can offer him playoff baseball vs whatever he can find on the market. They can make the dollars or rings question quite explicit for him.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2022 at 04:37 PM (#6100912)
I mean, he's won a ring, why wouldn't he take the money? Especially since some other contender would probably be interested in him at a lower price?
   12. mathesond Posted: October 15, 2022 at 05:26 PM (#6100916)
The Jays could use a lefty-hitting CF - Springer is due to move to a corner soon and their lineup is tilted heavily to the right.
   13. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 17, 2022 at 11:27 AM (#6101201)

What team would trade anything for him? At 18.1 million he has negative trade value.

Maybe if the Dodgers included Betts in the deal they could get a prospect or two back. The Dodgers still might have to cover some of that $18M though.
   14. Der-K's enjoying the new boygenius album. Posted: October 17, 2022 at 03:18 PM (#6101245)
They can make the dollars or rings question quite explicit for him.
to be fair, and this need not have anything to do with bellinger specifically - it's easy to use money as a proxy for "this is how much they want or value me". if deep pocketed la didn't match or approach another offer, bellinger would be justified in thinking that the dodgers simply thought less of him than the other club - and it's super reasonable to go where you feel most wanted, even beyond $$ in and of itself.

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