Whether feeling pressure coming off an MVP season or simply just in the midst of a slow start, Cody Bellinger has failed to meet expectations thus far in 2020. He of course isn’t alone, as the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup collectively has left plenty to be desired.
When extrapolated more so, offensive numbers across baseball are down. For Bellinger, he has just three extra-base hits (two doubles; one home run) in 72 at-bats through 17 games. He already was held out of the lineup once as a means to reset.
“Each team is pitching him different. Whether it’s top of the zone, or these guys are trying to crowd him, some are trying to spin him. He’s battling, he’s grinding,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after Bellinger went 0-for-4 in a loss to the San Diego Padres.
He grounded into two inning-ending double plays Tuesday and has been held hitless in seven games this season. “There’s some balls that he’s squared up that just seem to be right at guys,” Roberts added.
“He’s working really hard, and it’s going to come. He and the hitting guys, every single day there’s progress. It hasn’t shown yet in a game, but I’m confident it will.”
Bellinger made waves when he unveiled a new batting stance during Summer Camp. He appeared to be a step behind handling velocity and already was showing signs of struggling some at the plate. Bellinger has since reverted back to his stance from last season.
“I’ve been back to last year’s for a while now,” he recently said. “It’s just a matter of getting timing down. Obviously it’s go time. I’m not too worried about it. … I haven’t really felt bad. It’s just a matter of missing pitches.”
Keeping players optimistic
Exacerbating the start Bellinger, Max Muncy and others are off to is the 2020 season has been shortened to just 60 games. That of course leaves the Dodgers — and all other players and teams — less margin for error, though an expanded postseason mitigates that in some sense.
“You’re not going to be hot all the time. There’s some guys that are really having a tough time, and when they do square up a baseball, there’s a guy there to make the play. We’ve just got to keep grinding, keep going,” Roberts said.
“If we continue to take the at-bats and have that fight we had, we’ll put up a big number in the coming days. Our encouragement is just take at-bats to help us win baseball games. Knowing that the season isn’t six months long, yeah, I understand there’s not time to catch up.
“Guys are going to struggle for a two-week period; that happens every year. You’ve got to have the ability to focus and drown that batting average out of your head.”
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