Cody Bellinger made his MLB debut in April 2017 behind plenty of fanfare and after extending his stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers, went on to earn a unanimous selection for National League Rookie of the Year.
Bellinger’s success raised expectations heading into 2018, and while he still was productive, the overall body of work paled in comparison to his rookie season. One particular troubles spot was facing left-handed pitching.
The regression was curious, considering Bellinger fared well against southpaws as a rookie and largely had throughout his Minor League career as well. He was among the players the Dodgers were forced to platoon during the second half of the season and throughout the World Series.
Bellinger admitted to that experience both humbling and motivating him during a recent interview on MLB Network:
“It was a nice little wake up call for me, realizing I wasn’t as good as I thought I was and there was a lot more room to improve on. Last offseason, working really hard to get back to being myself in the box and not shying away from it when things aren’t going your way. Just sticking with your plan and process.”
After being named 2019 NL MVP and reflecting on his bounce-back year of sorts, Bellinger reiterated the sophomore slump helped fuel him, via SportsNet LA
“It definitely fired me up a little bit. I knew that was not the type of player that I was. Just extremely blessed Brownie and Van Scoyoc were there to help me all year. Got me locked in at the beginning of the year and had great conversations throughout the year to help me maintain staying locked in.”
Bellinger joined Johnny Bench, Fred Lynn and Dustin Pedroia as players to win Rookie of the Year, a Gold Glove and MVP Award before turning 25 years old. He’s the youngest MVP in franchise history and is part of a select group that also includes Jackie Robinson and Don Newcombe as Dodgers to win Rookie of the Year and MVP.
“I had a ton of fun watching him this year. It’s very well deserved,” said Clayton Kershaw, who won MVP in 2014. “What everyone says is true – great talent, great athlete, all that stuff, but man, he’s just a great baseball player and there is nothing else to say. Congratulations Cody!”
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