Cody Bellinger burst onto the scene in 2017, launching a National League rookie-record 39 home runs en route to a unanimous Rookie of the Year Award.
The 2018 season was much more difficult for Bellinger though as he had his ups and downs at the plate, resulting in just 25 home runs to go along with a .814 on-base plus slugging percentage. In comparison, he had a .933 OPS in 2017.
Bellinger struggled particularly against left-handed pitching. He posted a .681 OPS against southpaws compared to .880 against righties. Because of that, he found himself out of the lineup on most days when the opposing team started a lefty during the last couple months of the season.
Despite his 2018 struggles, Bellinger believes that he needs to be in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup every day in 2019 in order to maximize his potential, via Pedro Moura of The Athletic:
“I should be in the lineup every single day,” Bellinger told The Athletic. “I don’t think there’s a question about that. Even when I’m not good, I’m still really good.”
While the quote may seem a bit forward or aggressive, Bellinger is correct in that he possesses talent few other players do, and good things often happen when he is on the field and in the lineup.
Bellinger proved to be a capable hitter against lefties during his rookie season, so he and the organization are both confident that he can get back to that this year.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently said he views Bellinger as the team’s everyday right fielder and the plan is for him to be in the lineup regardless of the opposing pitcher’s handedness.
Bellinger’s ability to play all three outfield positions as well as first base at a Gold Glove-caliber level will also be a huge factor in him remaining in the lineup on a daily basis.