Bellinger's father, Clay, played in the Majors four years and won World Series rings with the Yankees in 1999 and 2000. So, Cody made friends inside a big league clubhouse at an early age. Their names were Derek, Jorge and Andy.
"It was unreal," said Cody. "Back then, I didn't realize how lucky I was. I look back on it now and Jorge and Jeter and Mussina and Pettitte, it was just crazy. Then they were just friends."
You don't get much better than the Bellinger family. And Cody is just a fantastic person.
Clay didn't make his big league debut until he was 30 years old.
"I think his road was a little different than mine has been. He was always one of the older guys (on his minor league teams),” Cody said of his father, who now works as a firefighter in Gilbert, Ariz. “He just tells me, ‘Stay within yourself. Don’t try to do too much.’”
Cody's father, Clay, a former Yankees outfielder, now works as a firefighter in Gilbert, AZ.
Bellinger said that his favorite player was Derek Jeter, “but I also grew to love Manny Ramirez. I loved the way he played and loved his baggy jersey.”
Before he was a World Series-winning star, Bellinger helped the Chandler National Little League team represent Arizona to a Little League World Series appearance in 2007. His team reached the semifinals, where it fell to Georgia, which went on to win the Little League World Series that year.
He graduated from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, with a commitment to the University of Oregon.
In 2013, the Dodgers drafted Bellinger (see Transactions below).
In 2014,Baseball America rated Bellinger as the 14th-best prospect in the Dodgers organization. They had Cody at #20 in the winter before 2015 spring camps opened. And in the spring of 2017, Bellinger was the #1 prospect in the Dodgers organization.
After the 2016 season, Cody was productive in the Arizona Fall League, posting a slash line of .314/.424/.557, with three home runs in 70 at-bats with 14 walks.
June 30, 2017: This series at Petco Park officially marks the start of a Bellinger family rivalry. That's because Cole Bellinger, brother of slugging Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger, signed with the Padres for $350,000. As a 15th-round draft pick out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., Cole has a long way to go until he's taking part in these rivalry games himself. But Cody's mind has already drifted to the possibility of facing Cole, a righthanded pitcher, in the Majors.
"That would be my top [baseball] moment, just because of how hard it is to get here," Cody said. "To have both of us get this far would be cool." With a four-year age gap, Cole and Cody have squared off on a baseball field only once before—in an alumni game at Hamilton. Cody singled.
He joked that he didn't think he'd be able to provide an accurate scouting report, given how little he's seen of Cole over the past four years.
"I know he's extremely intelligent in how he pitches, and he's got really good stuff," Cody said. "So I'm excited for him to learn from professional coaches."
Cody learned he'd been invited to participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on July 10 at Marlins Park. But he's waiting to learn if his father, Clay, will be able to pitch to him before he commits. Clay played parts of four big league seasons with the Yankees and Angels. Cody, of course, has been on a tear since his big league callup in April. He's leading the National League with 24 home runs, and he's fifth with a .993 OPS.
"As far as the past couple years, being in the Majors, he's definitely helped me realize that's what I want to do," Cole told MLB.com. "He's talked to me about how cool it is, but how much hard work it takes. He has hopefully guided me down that path."
Cole, who was previously committed to play at Grand Canyon University, signed with the Padres and has already begun working out at the team's complex in Arizona.
It's the first step in his professional career toward a matchup with his brother in an NL West rivalry game. "He's a few years away," Cody said. "But to do what he did and to make it as far as he has, it's kind of special." (AJ Cassavell - MLB.com - July 1, 2017)
July 2017: Bellinger represented the Dodgers in the MLB All-Star game. He’s the first player in major league history to reach 24 home runs in 57 career games. He’s the first to hit four multi-homer games in 45 career games. He added another first when he was named to the NL All-Star team. He’s the first Dodger position player to make the team in his first season in the Majors.
Throw the accolades away—the Little League World Series run, the Major League scouts, and the stardom his friends thought was inevitable—and Cody was just like any other 17-year-old kid during his senior year of high school. Each half day at Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona, Bellinger and his friends would feast on burritos from Los Favoritos Taco Shop, then follow it up with an typical afternoon of trash talk, talking about the future and a good old video game tournament.
Bellinger and his friends' game of choice? FIFA. Through the soccer game, Bellinger—who isn't one to talk and do anything other than flash a smile on the diamond—transformed into a Michael Jordan-level trash talker. "Cody's the type of player who will talk [smack] to you even though they're down by like three goals," said Cole Luke, Bellinger's friend. "He's the kind of guy who will always joke with you, is super sarcastic. If you score a goal, he'll be like, 'Oh yeah, was that a good goal?' That's just the kind of guy he is."
"I use it to my advantage," Bellinger added. "I don't really do it on the field, but off the field, I use it to my advantage. I'll talk a lot of smack. We've always been, since I was a little kid, super-competitive."
Bellinger and his friends, a collection of athletes from Hamilton's sterling baseball and football programs, would also discuss the future. "When you make it," each conversation began, aimed at a different athlete each time. Each would end in the same result—once a year, every year, the group would come together for a week at a beach house in the Bahamas and reflect on the past.
Each has taken his own path. Luke is currently a rookie defensive back with the Carolina Panthers. Connor Woods, one of Bellinger's teammates in the Little League World Series, studied to become a teacher. Another friend is looking to go to law school. None had projected the immediate and sudden rise of Bellinger. The kid who homered just once as a Hamilton High School senior is hitting the long ball at a rate that compares to some of the best rookies ever. "It's just crazy how it's actually happening for him," Luke said. "It still hasn't really hit me. I remember there was a week where every time I would get a notification on my phone, it was something Cody Bellinger did."
Cody's high school friends still talk about the future, even without having the burritos to bond them. Group texts give them a chance to relive old memories, and to even humble one of baseball's new stars if they feel it's necessary. "We'll all still tell Cody that he sucks to his face, you know what I mean?" Luke said. "Just joking around, but that's just the kind of group of guys that we were around."
For Bellinger—the Little League World Series hero, son of a former Major Leaguer, and a virtual lock for the NL Rookie of the Year Award—it's the taste of home he needs.
"For me, I know the game is a humbling game, so I don't get too high or too low," Bellinger said. "They have my back, 100 percent. It's been a crazy year for me. They've been real supportive, and that's all I can ask for. The coolest part is, we're all still connected. We all still talk. It's pretty cool to go from that, the half-days were nice just going out to eat and hanging out as a group." (Ardaya - mlb.com - 7/27/17)
Aug 11, 2017: Having a dad who played three seasons for the Yankees, Cody Bellinger was always in the company of Major League stars. But here, Bellinger was in a different position. Less than 24 hours removed from returning to Los Angeles from the Dodgers' nine-game road trip, Bellinger, a 2017 National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate, was in the presence of 200 kids at the Bresee Youth Center in L.A., who were waiting to meet the rookie phenom.
In conjunction with the Dodgers Foundation, Bellinger handed out backpacks, T-shirts, Hi-Chew candy and water bottles to students from the Bresee Youth Center. Bellinger also presented the Bresee Center with a gift, his signed All-Star jersey to be put on display there.
It was one of the first instances where he's been able to give back to the L.A. community in his young career, and Bellinger said it was "special" to be a part of the event. Working every day to make sure his swing stays intact or continuing produce for the hottest team in baseball has become second nature for Bellinger, but participating in community events is new for the 22-year-old.
"Growing up in a clubhouse, meeting the Derek Jeters, the Andy Pettittes of the world," Bellinger said, "it's really cool to be that person for a day that they kind of look up to."
The event marked the first year that the Dodgers Foundation supported Bresee's annual backpack giveaway, and the foundation also gave the center a $10,000 grant to support academic tutoring and college-readiness programs. Bellinger, who is two homers shy of tying the Dodgers' rookie record for home runs in a season, didn't take any of that for granted.
"To be out here to see it firsthand is really cool," Bellinger said. "Being the guy that some kids look up to is pretty cool. To come out here and hand out candy and backpacks is a cool feeling." (J Thornton - MLB.com - Aug 12, 2017)
LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES
It was the 2007 Little League World Series, and Bellinger's team from Chandler, Ariz., made it all the way to the U.S. bracket final before losing to the eventual champion from Georgia. But Bellinger made his mark, going 3-for-3 with an opposite-field home run in one of the games.
Looking back, it was here the younger Bellinger began to separate himself from the legacy of his father, who won a World Series with the Yankees in 2000. "It was probably the most fun I had playing baseball," Cody Bellinger said of the Little League World Series. "I think that was the moment for me where I said, 'I really want to do this. I can probably try to do this.' It turned the switch a little bit. I focused on it a little more."
Less than a decade later, Cody would be in the big leagues, smashing home runs at a historic rate for a rookie.
"Cody used to be 'Clay Bellinger's son,'" said Clay, who coached his son in the Little League World Series. "Now, I'm 'Cody Bellinger's dad.'"
Cody is the first player from the 2007 Little League World Series to reach the Majors, and the latest in a long line of elite youngsters to grow into Major Leaguers. He is a slugger now with a chance to break the Dodgers' franchise rookie home run record. But back then, he was a smaller kid.
"I thought the Little League fields were big," he said with a chuckle. "You look back now, and its obviously the smallest field you can play on."
The fields may be small, but in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the stage is huge. That's why it's such a luxury to have what Cody Bellinger did—a Major Leaguer dad to help handle the atmosphere. Being in front of big crowds wasn't anything new for Cody Bellinger, who as a young child attended his father's World Series championship parades in New York City.
"Playing in front of 28,000-30,000 fans as an 11- or 12-year old is pretty spectacular," Cody said. "There was less pressure knowing [my dad] was there."
"You get just a condensed version of what could be life in the big leagues, with all the cameras and the media," Clay said. Now that's all focused on Cody Bellinger again, as his Dodgers enjoy a historic season and eye a deep October run. He's a long way from Williamsport, and soon may have his own World Series parade to attend. Cody already knows what those are like, thanks to his dad. "Any time you see your dad playing, you want to do it," Clay Bellinger said. "Then when you realize you're pretty good at it, you fall in love with it." (Trezza - mlb.com - 8/27/17)
In 2017, Bellinger was a unanimous pick for NL Rookie of the Year.
In 2017, Bellinger was named the Sportsman of the Year by the LA Sports Council.
Imagine being Cody. Your first full season in the Major Leagues made you a star, you coasted to a 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award after clubbing 39 homers, second only to Giancarlo Stanton for the most in the NL. And then you go to Game 7 of the World Series.
That's what happened to the Dodgers' young slugger in a whirlwind of a first season in the Majors. Along the way, he also earned himself a bit of a reputation among his teammates for his love of ice cream. It's a good way to pass the time during a rain delay. (Garra - mlb.com - 3/15/18)
When you're young, bash dingers and play for the Dodgers, the world is your oyster. The finest restaurants open their doors to you and a personal chef could easily be at your beck and call. So, if you're Cody Bellinger, what do you eat for breakfast every day? IHOP.
The Dodgers' homer-hitting sophomore appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on May 7, 2018, and revealed that he eats the same breakfast every day: "Banana Nutella crepe with hash browns, bacon, and eggs—two over-medium." Now that's the kind of breakfast fans can get behind.
Even better, Bellinger rides his scooter to the restaurant to pick it up. Why? Because he can't parallel park. (Clair - mlb.com - 5/8/18)
Oct 25, 2019: But Bellinger’s 2019 season comprised three distinct stages.
The first half of the regular season was, in the words of Dodgers broadcaster Joe Davis, “ridiculous.” The second half wasn’t as ridiculous, but Bellinger remained productive. Then came the postseason, and the Nationals’ front-line pitching wouldn’t let Bellinger beat them.
No wonder scouts often say, as Bellinger goes, so go the Dodgers.
What Went Right?
After being platooned much of 2018, Bellinger rebounded like a beast. He ranked among league leaders in batting average (.305, ninth), OBP (.406, third), slugging percentage (.629, second), OPS (1.035, third), total bases (351, first), home runs (47, third), runs (121, second), RBIs (115, seventh), walks (95, sixth) and extra-base hits (84, second).
His 47 home runs ranked as the third highest single-season total in franchise history, behind only Shawn Green (49, 2001) and Adrian Beltre (48, 2004). He is the fastest player in Dodger franchise history to reach 100 career homers and his 28th and 29th home runs of the season on July 3 to surpass Gil Hodges and Duke Snider (28) for most homers prior to the All-Star break.
He was tied for second among outfielders with 22 defensive runs saved and tied for fourth in the NL with 10 outfield assists. He seamlessly moved around from right field to center field to first base.
He’s got five tools and uses them all. And not to be overlooked, he stayed injury-free and on the field the entire season.
What Went Wrong?
Bellinger wasn’t the only Dodger hitter neutralized by the Nationals, but MVPs need to do better than no RBIs and a .549 OPS. As for the second half of the regular season, there was a noticeable offensive drop off from the unsustainable pace of the first half.
On April 21, Bellinger robbed 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich of an eighth-inning homer with his glove, then slugged a game-winning blast off Josh Hader in the ninth for a wild 6-5 win.
A year ago, Bellinger was dedicated to becoming a full-time player again. The guess here is that he will be just as dedicated to maintaining MVP quality over the entire season and, especially, into the offseason. He’ll probably do it mostly from center field, although the way the Dodgers move pieces around, it could be right field or first base, too. (K Gurnick - MLB.com - Oct 25, 2019)
2019: Cody already ranks in the top 20 all time for homers through a player’s age-23 season, and is now only the 26th position player to produce an 8.0-WAR season that young.
Nov. 14, 2019: Bellinger was named the NL MVP. Gold Glove, check. Silver Slugger, check. MVP, check.
Cody Bellinger completed a Triple Crown like no other Dodger, when he was named the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player, becoming the first Dodger in the same season to win awards for the best player in the NL and best defensive player and hitter at his position.
Bellinger wins the 14th MVP Award for the Dodgers, the first since Clayton Kershaw in 2014, the second since Kirk Gibson in 1988 and the sixth in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Bellinger won the award over defending MVP Christian Yelich and World Series hero Anthony Rendon. He received 19 first-place votes and was at No. 1 or 2 on 29 out of 30 ballots.
“It’s absolutely incredible,” said a misty-eyed Bellinger while appearing on MLB Network’s broadcast by live feed, surrounded by his family and friends. “It’s really cool that my family and friends are here. I’m a little emotional. It’s really cool. It’s what you dream of, man, for sure.” (K Gurnick and S Wexler - MLB.com - Nov 14, 2019)
Nov. 10, 2019: Baseball had never before had an official star squad that salutes a full season's worth of work the way other major professional sports do. But the results of the voting for the first All-MLB Team finally arrived at the Winter Meetings. The Dodgers Bellinger was named to the first team outfield.
May 10, 2020: ESPN producer Patrick Truby asked on Twitter: Who is the “coolest” person in baseball? That’s the sort of question during these sad days without live Major League Baseball that gets our engines motoring over here. That’ll continue to fill the days.
So, today, we take a look at the Dodger “coolest” player. That is, of course, a vague concept, “cooler,” so we’ll just give you our definition of it: When an 8-year-old is pretending to be his favorite player on his favorite team out on the diamond, which player is he pretending to be? That’s how we’ll define it. And here are our picks.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, OF/1B -- More players to choose from than you might think from an old-school franchise like this, but Bellinger’s not a difficult pick here. Gets an edge over Mookie Betts because Betts has yet to play a game for Los Angeles. (Will Leitch)
Cody’s MLB debut
Bellinger came into 2017 as one of the game’s top prospects — rated number 7 by Baseball America, number 13 by MLB.com, and number 26 by Baseball Prospectus.
MLB.com’s prospect expert Jim Callis shared this: “I think Cody Bellinger is the best power-hitting prospect in baseball.”
And he added: “I can’t remember ever hearing a first baseman in the Minor Leagues being talked about like that defensively.”
Bellinger had another tool in his tool belt — versatility.
Besides first base, Bellinger had played 64 minor league games in the outfield . . . spread across all three positions.
The Dodgers called Bellinger up on April 25, 2017. “Once I got off the phone, I called my parents,” Bellinger said. “I think they started crying on the phone, so it was a pretty cool moment for me.”
On a damp April 25, 2017 evening in San Francisco, Bellinger started in left field and batted eighth. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single.
· In his first at-bat, he popped out in the third inning against the Giants’ Ty Blach.· In the fifth, he lined out to right-center field against Blach. · In the seventh, with runners on first and second and one out, he was intentionally walked by George Kontos. · In the ninth against Neil Ramirez, Bellinger hit a topper to the left side and legged out an infield single, which earned some laughs from teammates, his family, and himself.
"It’s not how I imagined it would be, but I’ll take it,” Bellinger told SportsNet LA’s Rizzo after the Dodgers’ 2–1 win.
In 2017, he set the NL record for most home runs by rookie (39), passing Wally Berger (1930) and Frank Robinson (1956) who each hit 38. Bellinger had 80 fewer plate appearances than Berger and 119 fewer than Robinson. Bellinger was the unanimous NL Rookie of the Year and went on to win the 2019 NL MVP. (Cary Osborne - June 22, 2020)
Nov. 4, 2020: Baseball fans who purchase the new Assassin's Creed video game may notice a familiar swing from one of the Viking characters.
Los Angeles Dodgers star—and newly crowned World Series champion—Cody Bellinger has been digitally rendered into the latest chapter of the popular video game series, Assassin's Creed Valhalla.
The center fielder apparently worked with game designers at Ubisoft earlier this year, with the production company using motion capture tools to record Bellinger's swing.
He'll portray the character Otta Sluggasson—and as the name suggests, Bellinger's knack for hitting will come in handy. (Blake Schuster)
2021 Season: After struggling throughout the entire year, Bellinger became arguably the Dodgers’ best and most consistent player in the postseason. He struggled to remain healthy during the regular season and hit just .165/.240/.302 with 10 home runs, a 48 wRC+ and -0.8 WAR in 95 games.
In the postseason, however, Bellinger was finally able to hit his stride and led the Dodgers by batting .353/.436/.471 in 12 games. (Blake Williams - Oct. 28, 2021)
June 2013: The Dodgers chose Bellinger in the fourth round, out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Arizona. He signed a week later for $700,000, much higher than the assigned $409,000 value for the No. 124 slot. Cody signed with scout Dustin Yount. (Editor's note: In 2014, Yount signed another Arizona high school outfielder, Alex Verdugo.)
Jan 10, 2020: Bellinger was rewarded financially for his 2019 MVP season by agreeing with the Dodgers on a 2020 contract for $11.5 million, setting an MLB salary record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Bellinger broke the previous first-year arbitration-eligible record, set by the Cubs’ Kris Bryant in 2018 ($10.8 million). (In 2019, the Dodgers renewed Bellinger’s salary at $605,000, when he lacked the service time to qualify for arbitration.)
- Jan 15, 2021: Cody and the Dodgers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $16.1 million. The deal is not guaranteed until Cody makes opening day roster. Hr is due to reach free agency after the 2023 season.
- Dec 1, 2021: Cody and the Dodgers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $17 million. The deal is not guaranteed until Cody makes opening day roster. Hr is due to reach free agency after the 2023 season.
|Birth City:||Chandler, AZ|
|Draft:||Dodgers #4 - 2013 - Out of high school (AZ)|
Bellinger has a sweet, smooth, balanced lefthanded swing. There is going to be power that shows up more and more as he matures as a hitter. And he is a dynamic all-around player on both sides of the ball.
He has a 55 grade for his hit tool, and 60 power at present (70 future power).
He can backspin the ball. He has grown into 25-30 per year home run power, which is very good for a first baseman. Cody uses his lower half well, generating nice leverage in his lefthanded swing, along with good bat speed. He has impressive hand-eye coordination and a solid feel for the strike zone. Cody hangs in well vs. lefthanded pitchers.
He's a line-drive hitter for frequent contact who likes to pull the ball for massive home runs. But he can use the whole field when he stays compact. He knows that a line-drive/gap approach is his best game. He has good hands.
Cody has natural timing and puts together solid at-bats with very good pitch recognition and a patient approach enable him to draw walks at a high rate. He loads well and has natural timing.
Bellinger has potential to hit for power, as he gets stronger. His thin, quick-twitch frame is filling out. He drives the ball to the gaps, and some of those will leave the yard in a couple of years.
Cody certainly swings the bat with authority, but is more of a low-ball hitter who could struggle with good velocity at higher levels. He needs to lower his strikeout rate by dialing things down with two strikes. In 2015, coaches worked with him to try to tone down his effort level at the plate,
He made an adjustment in 2015 to load his hands to create better torque instead of relying more on his body in his swing. That change increased his power production, but also created a more uphill swing plane, leaving him with a bigger strikeout rate. Toward the end of 2015, Bellinger condensed his hand trigger slightly and became more studious of opposing pitchers and his own strengths and weaknesses, which allowed him to cut his strikeout rate. Those changes carried over into 2016, as he lowered his strikeout rate from 27 percent at high Class A in 2015 to 20 percent at Double-A in 2016 without sacrificing his power. (Spring, 2017)
Bellinger worked to lower his hands at the plate during the winter before 2016 spring training. That creates more backspin on balls hit to the gap as they traveled a bit farther than before.
"I know what kind of hitter I am," Bellinger said. "I'm still a line-drive hitter. If the power comes, then great. I still know I have a lot of weight to put on. So if the power isn't completely there this year, I'm going to be fine. I'm going to stick to my line-drive approach and see what happens." (May, 2016)
Dodgers minor league hitting coordinator Damon Mashore helped Cody's upper half get in sync with his legs and hips.
"Synching up his body with that swing really produces power," Mashore said. "I just taught him how to create energy with his hands and use his back elbow. We basically call it a running-back elbow, using it to reconnect with his legs to get the most amount of force going linear."
The action with the elbow, along with a slight lowering of Bellinger's hands work in tandem with his already excellent base to create an acceleration of the bat's barrel, and therefore, a faster path to the baseball. Cody has a natural uppercut and when everything comes together—Ka-Boom! (August, 2016)
2016 Improvements: Cody Bellinger's son had a breakout season in 2015 when he led the California League in runs and RBIs and finished second in home runs. But given that it was in a hitter-friendly league and that his batting average took a big hit as his strikeout rate soared, people wanted to see what Bellinger would do at the upper levels.
All he did in 2016 was lower his K rate, raise his walk rate and still hit 26 homers in the regular season. And Cody ranked among the top 5 in the Texas League with 23 home runs, a .359 on-base percentage and by slugging .484.
MLB.com ranks Bellinger as the best power prospect in baseball, and his improved command of the strike zone—his walk total rose in 2016, while his strikeout total fell—suggests overall improvement.
Cody became the fastest Dodger in the modern era to reach 10 career home runs, according to Elias. Bellinger, playing in his 31st game, belted a three-run shot off a hanging 1-2 curveball from Cubs lefty Jon Lester in the bottom of the second to give the Dodgers the lead for good in a 9-4 win at Dodger Stadium.
However, Bellinger's home run nearly didn't happen. Earlier in the at-bat, the 21-year-old decided to square up to bunt against Lester because of some pitches he saw and some notes he remembered from the Dodgers' scouting report.
"It was one of those things, if we get an opportunity to get a bunt base hit, we're going to take it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "After that, Kris Bryant moves in and fortunately [Bellinger] chose to swing the bat."
It was Bellinger's first time going against Lester—one of the top lefties in the National League—and the rookie has had to adjust day by day to top-level competition. Bellinger is starting to garner more attention and said he's noticed pitchers taking different approaches.
"I think the hardest part is you have a scouting report, but you don't really see it until you actually face him," Bellinger said about Lester. "I think a second time around, there's more confidence going into it and you just try to rely on the scouting report and what the guys say before you." (Thornton - mlb.com - 5/28/17)
June 19, 2017: Cody Bellinger, called up because of injuries on the Dodgers’ roster, gave the rest of the league a three-week head start. He’s caught up. With his 20th and 21st home runs in a 10-6 win over the Mets, Bellinger now leads the NL in home runs, and is just two behind the Yankees’ Aaron Judge.
The 21-year-old Bellinger went yard in each of the first two innings off of Zack Wheeler. He stands upright and gets full extension, swinging with a violent, scooping motion. (Maybe it’s the uniform, but it reminds people of Shawn Green’s swing.) When he gets the barrel on the ball, there’s little doubt.
With two in two innings, Bellinger was definitely looking for more. In his third at-bat he struck out swinging, on a cut that could only have been seeking the seats.
“I don’t blame him,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I told him anybody can hit two home runs. I wanted to see him hit three myself.”
Even without a three-homer game (which feels like it’s just a matter of time, honestly), Bellinger is doing some amazing stuff. Bellinger is the fastest ever to 21 home runs to start an MLB career. His first homer was his 20th in 51 career games, tying Wally Berger in 1930 and Gary Sanchez in 2016. His second homer puts him all alone.
He is only the fourth player age 21 or younger to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break, along with Eddie Mathews (27 in 1953), Albert Pujols (21 in 2001), and Miguel Cabrera (20 in 2004). His fifth multi-homer game (and three in his last nine games) ties Mike Piazza in 1993 for the most ever by a Dodgers rookie. Only one rookie in MLB history had more: Mark McGwire, with seven in 1987. (Barry Petchesky-DeadSpin)
June 20, 2017: After depositing a two-run home run in the first inning of the Dodgers' 12-0 win over the Mets at Dodger Stadium, Cody Bellinger became the first rookie in the modern era to hit 10 home runs in a 10-game span, according to Elias. The 21-year-old slugger has also reached 22 home runs faster than any player in Major League history, doing so in his 52nd game.
"I'm having a blast," Bellinger said. "I think what really tops it off is how well we're playing as a team. It's fun to watch. It's fun to be around. We're just clicking on all cylinders."
The only other Dodgers player to hit 10 home runs in 10 games was Shawn Green, in May 2002. Bellinger is also the first player with a 10-homer, 10-game run since Troy Tulowitzki, who hit 11 in 10 games in September 2010 with the Rockies. (Thornton - mlb.com)
June 14, 2017: Bellinger became the fastest player in Major League history to enjoy four multi-homer outbursts, doing so in just 45 career games.
June 25, 2017: Cody recorded six multi-homer games way faster than any player in history. It was his 57th career game and the sixth time he has homered twice. Previously, the fastest player to record six multi-homer games was Mark McGwire, who accomplished the feat in his 97th game in 1987.
- July 15, 2017: Bellinger hit for the cycle, going 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs in the Dodgers' 7-1 win over the Marlins.
Cody became the first rookie in franchise history to hit for the cycle, Bellinger is the ninth Dodger to pull off the feat, the third since the franchise moved to Los Angeles. The last Dodger to hit for the cycle was Orlando Hudson, who did it on April 13, 2009.
August 2, 2017: Bellinger hit his 30th homer of the season off Braves starter Julio Teheran to become the third-fastest player (87 games) to reach the mark since 1900, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
Only former Tiger catcher Rudy York (79 games in 1937) and ex-Oakland Athletics first baseman Mark McGwire (84 games in 1987) hit their first 30 home runs in fewer games than Bellinger.
September 3, 2017: Cody set the Dodgers franchise record for rookie home runs with his 36th, blasted off Padres closer Brad Hand in the ninth inning of a 6-4 loss. The previous record of 35 was set by Mike Piazza in 1993. Mark McGwire holds the MLB record of 49 set in 1987.
September 22, 2017: Bellinger went deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
April 13, 2019: Bellinger joined Willie Mays as the only players with seven homers in the first 10 games of the season.
April 23, 2019: After a hot first week of 2019, Dodgers' color commentator Orel Hershiser made an early declaration that Cody Bellinger looked like he’d be in the National League MVP conversation at the end of the season. How about starting with Player of the Month?
It seems like that honor is where Bellinger’s headed through his first 23 games. His .424 average tops MLB, as do his .882 slugging percentage and 36 hits. His 11 home runs trail just Christian Yelich’s 13. Bellinger has been extremely difficult to retire, having reached base in exactly half of his 100 plate appearances.
Bellinger’s value has extended beyond his bat, too. With the ability to play an excellent defensive first base and to hold his own at all three outfield spots, Bellinger fits right in on a Dodgers squad that emphasizes versatility. Bellinger’s abilities were on full display on Sunday when he robbed Yelich of a home run in a Dodgers-Brewers showdown, shortly before winning the game with a ninth-inning solo shot.
This year’s version of Bellinger is looking every bit the player whose performance merited unanimous NL Rookie of the Year selection in 2017, and then some. Whatever frustration the 23-year-old might have felt during a comparatively down 2018 seems to have been left there. He’s a reformed hitter: The holes in his long, left-handed swing appear to be gone, in no small part thanks to work with the team’s trio of offensive instructors, headed by hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc. For Bellinger, though, it’s also a matter of mental clarity.
“Understanding what I want to do, and knowing why I feel good, and knowing why I don’t feel good,” said Bellinger. “Just going into the cage and trying to find it every day, and trying to stay locked in.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts attributes Bellinger’s torrid start to improved swing mechanics, but he believes it’s a strong work ethic that will let Bellinger keep thriving.
“Consistency in the preparation and the approach,” Roberts said of what’s keyed Bellinger. “Obviously, the results have been consistent as well. But I think that’s what’s leading up to those results is, for me, the most impressive. And I think that’s something that can sustain the success.”
Bellinger’s overall approach at the plate has changed in ways that set him up to continue being an offensive menace, too. His strikeout rate has slashed in half, down to 12 percent from his career average of 24 percent. His walk rate is up a few ticks, too, in part due to pitchers approaching him more cautiously and in part due to improved discipline—he’s swinging at just 21.7 percent of pitches out of the strike zone, down nearly six percent from last season. And when he swings, he’s missed less often than anyone in the NL, with a league-best contact rate of 87.7 percent.
It’s been an illustrious career for Bellinger already. En route to breaking the NL rookie record with 39 home runs, he showed off his power on the national stage in the 2017 Home Run Derby. Bellinger was also an All-Star in '17 and nabbed MVP of the '18 NL Championship Series by hitting the Game 7-deciding home run. But now, he’s looking like a bona fide superstar, a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball. And he’ll be just 24 in July, 2019— baseball could be hearing a lot from this guy for a while to come. (S Wexler - MLB.com - April 23, 2019)
- April 26, 2019: Bellinger sets slew of records with his 13th homer. Cody homered and singled in the 6-2 win over the Pirates at Dodger Stadium, setting the modern-day MLB record with 88 total bases in March/April.
With home run No. 13, a line drive off Chris Archer, Bellinger moved ahead of previous leader and former teammate, Chase Utley, whose record of 85 total bases has stood since 2008. In the seventh inning he singled. The record is kept for seasons since 1900.
“Feels pretty cool,” said Bellinger. “Actually didn’t know until they told me in the dugout tonight. Hopefully [Utley's] here tomorrow so we can talk about it.”
Bellinger has 33 RBIs, the most for a Dodger through 28 games since Ron Cey had 37 in 1977. He also broke a tie with Matt Kemp and now has the most home runs in Dodgers history for March/April. He’s one hit shy of the all-time Dodgers mark for hits in March/April set by Rafael Furcal (43) in 2008.
Bellinger entered the game leading MLB in runs, hits, batting average and slugging percentage and is tied for the MLB lead in home runs with Christian Yelich. (K Gurnick - MLB.com - April 27, 2019)
April 29, 2019: Bellinger threw a runner out at third base from right field and singled home the first run on an 0-2 pitch off a lefthander for another MLB record. Bellinger has 37 RBIs, the most before May 1 in MLB history. He had been tied with Mark McGwire and Juan Gonzalez, who both reached the mark in 1998.
Bellinger went 2-for-3 with a walk and threw out Brandon Crawford in the second inning trying to go from first to third on Kevin Pillar’s single with no outs, with Bellinger’s fastball tracked by Statcast at 91.7 mph. The two singles increased Bellinger’s MLB record for total bases in March/April to 96, 11 more than Chase Utley’s previous record. Bellinger leads the league in everything, just about.
April 30, 2019: Bellinger went 1-for-3 with a walk, a single giving him 97 total bases and extending his MLB-record in March/April (since 1900). He’s reached base in 30 of 31 games played.
May 2, 2019: Cody Bellinger was a healthy scratch in Games 1 and 2 of last year’s World Series. Six months later, he’s capped off one of the greatest starts in Major League history: An out-of-this world .431/.508/.890 slash line, and a record-tying 14 home runs before the calendar flipped to May.
Bellinger’s turnaround ranks among the young season’s best storylines, especially because he’s been at the top of the heap before, such as when he won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2017. In two-plus seasons, we’ve seen Bellinger go on tears like this, and we’ve also seen him look directionless at the plate—multiple times over.
So, why is this hot stretch more encouraging than the others? Everything Bellinger’s doing this time around points toward more stability, and more proactivity. Bellinger no longer looks like a slugger swinging from his heels; instead, he looks much more like a hitter who’s made adjustments—and is capable of making them again.
“Every day before the game I know what I want to do,” Bellinger told the Los Angeles Daily News. “If I’m not feeling good, I try to figure why I’m not, and then I try to get back to where I was.”
With help from Statcast’s pitch tracking technology, let’s dive into that. Here’s what the “new” Cody Bellinger is looking to do, and his execution that could keep him on his MVP pace.
He’s much more selective.
Bellinger’s 3.4% decrease in chase swings (from 24.4% in 2018 to 21.0% in 2019) ranks in the top quarter of hitters who saw at least 750 out-of-zone pitches last year, and at least 150 this year. But for Bellinger specifically, it’s more about which pitches he’s chasing less.
The book on Bellinger has been to throw him breaking balls low in the zone, and particularly ones that break toward his feet. When the Astros struck out Bellinger 17 times in the 2017 World Series, eight of them came on curveballs down and in, while another three came on sweeping sliders down and away from lefties Dallas Keuchel and Francisco Liriano. There were a lot of at-bats that ended like this:
Opposing pitchers took Houston’s lead and exposed Bellinger in those areas last year; he hit just .225 and struck out in 37.5% of his at-bats that ended on a breaker in the lower-third of the zone or below. Last October, even though Bellinger won the National League Championship Series MVP, he still finished the postseason with a .115 average, and pitchers like Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi went back to the well to strike out Bellinger again on similar pitches and zones.
But Bellinger is showing new restraint in 2019. Scan the list of 197 hitters who have seen at least 50 out-of-zone breakers, and Bellinger’s chase rate is 14th-best. He’s also pulling the trigger much less on inside fastballs, meaning he’s spitting on two types of weapons that pitchers—especially lefties—have crowded him with in the past.
While we’re pulling from a very small sample from this year, seeing Bellinger take pitches like these has to be encouraging for Dodgers fans.
He’s bringing pitchers back to his zones.
Bellinger and his manager Dave Roberts have pointed to his new stance as a major reason he’s covering more of the plate. After he went back and forth with his bat angle last year, Dodgers hitting coaches Aaron Bates, Brant Brown and Robert Van Scoyoc have adjusted Bellinger’s posture to keep his torso more upright and his hands higher up in a loading position, putting him in better position to execute emergency hacks. You can see the difference when he’s up at the plate; Bellinger looks a lot like his Rookie of the Year self once again.
Spoiling “pitchers' pitches” off the plate helps a hitter extend at-bats, and the old Bellinger was decidedly poor in contacting out-of-zone deliveries in 2017 and 2018. With the new Bellinger, it’s a completely different story—he's fouling a bunch of those pitchers' pitches off.
Biggest increases in chase foul rate, 2018 vs. 2019 (minimum 250 chase swings in 2018 and minimum 50 in 2019 (95 hitters): 1. Rhys Hoskins: +16.0% 2. Trey Mancini (BAL): +11.4% 3. Hunter Renfroe (SD): +11.2% 4. Starlin Castro (MIA): +11.1% 5. Bellinger: +10.1% (36.1% to 46.2%)
Bellinger's in a more athletic position to fight off the inside pitches that plagued him before, and he's shortened his swing to become much quicker to the baseball. Bellinger fouled off a low pitch on a 3-2 count from Liriano before following up with an RBI single off a slider in the heart of the plate. On April 21, he checked away a sweeping slider from Josh Hader before crushing another hanging breaker for a game-winning home run.
Bellinger possesses one of the prettiest lefthanded swings in baseball, but it’s obviously more effective when he can bat away pitches he can't damage—and then unleash that uppercut on pitches in his wheelhouse.
“There’s discipline and power,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Bellinger after watching him up close. “He gets his swing off with as much force as anyone in the game. But there’s also an element of bat-to-ball.”
He’s found his sweet spot
Bellinger’s elite power became obvious when he knocked a rookie record 39 homers two years ago, and he added 25 more in a “down” season last year. So, as he’s eliminating his trouble pitches and hunting deliveries he can handle, he’s unlocking that sweet power stroke early and often.
Most hard-hit balls (95+ mph EV): Cody Bellinger—51
Most balls in LA sweet spot (8-32°): Cody Bellinger—46
Most balls both HH *and* in SwSp (95+ mph exit velo + 8-32° launch): Cody Bellinger—33
He's just hitting everything perfectly.
Hitting the ball hard is one thing, but knocking pitches with pace and lifting them up into that most productive line drive/fly ball range is what separates stars from the rest of the pack. (The “sweet spot" is Statcast’s designation for launch angles between 8 and 32 degrees.) Spitting on breaking balls has helped Bellinger cut his ground-ball rate by more than 11 percent, and he’s optimizing his air balls toward his most efficient direction for power.
Pct. of Bellinger’s fly balls+line drives hit to pull side, 2017-2019:
2017: 36.9% 2018: 38.7% 2019: 52.3% — 3rd-highest in MLB (min. 40 fly balls+line drives)
Pulling the ball isn’t the only factor for successful slugging, but it’s clearly a formula that’s worked for Bellinger; 25 of his 39 long balls went to right field in 2019. With a more polished approach than we’ve ever seen from Bellinger before, the Dodgers star looks like more of a 50-homer threat in Year 3. (M Kelly - MLB.com - May 2, 2019)
May 2, 2019: Bellinger was honored by MLB as the NL Player of the Month for his stellar performances to start the season. He batted an MLB-best .431/.508/.890 in March and April with 14 home runs, six doubles, one triple, 37 RBIs and five stolen bases in 31 games.
Cody set the MLB record for March/April (since 1900) with 97 total bases and had the most RBIs by any player before May 1 since they became a stat in 1920. His 14 home runs were also tied with Christian Yelich (2019), Alex Rodriguez (2007) and Albert Pujols (2006) for the most before May 1 in MLB history.
Bellinger hit just one home run during his senior year at Hamilton High in Chandler, Arizona.
"And it bounced off the top of the fence," Belli said.
He hit four home runs in his first two pro seasons. But under the tutelage of Dodgers minor league coaches, he underwent a major swing change in Class A in 2015 to generate more lift. It worked immediately. He smashed 30 home runs that year and debuted two years later in the bigs with 39.
After a downturn in 2018 that found him on the bench for three of the five World Series games, Bellinger and hitting coaches Robert Von Scoyoc and Brant Brown dived into video study to get his groove back.
"We didn't look at anything from last year," Cody said. "It was all from 2017."
Belli returned to his 2017 setup—bat held flat rather than upright—and created a quicker path to the baseball. (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 5/20/2019)
May 28, 2019: Cody became the only Dodger with three 20-homer seasons before the age of 24.
July 3, 2019: It’s pretty crazy to have Duke Snider and Gil Hodges looking up to you, but Bellinger leapt past both legends to top the franchise list for most home runs before the All-Star break at 29. He has reached base safely in 43 of 44 home games this season, the lone blemish when he went 0-for-1 off the bench on June 20.
July 4, 2019: With number 30 on the 4th of July at Dodger Stadium, Cody passed Duke Snider and Gil Hodges for most Dodgers home runs before the All-Star break. And he closed the gap on Reggie Jackson (37), Mark McGwire (33) and Willie Mays (31) for most pre-break homers under the age of 24.
This is the kind of company Bellinger is keeping in what has the makings of the greatest offensive season in Dodgers history. And there were still three games before the All-Star break.
Aug 2, 2019: Bellinger slugged his 100th career home run in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 5-2 loss to the Padres at Dodger Stadium. Bellinger reached the mark in his 401st game, becoming the fastest player in Dodgers history to hit the milestone, surpassing Mike Piazza, who hit his 100th in his 422nd game.
“It’s pretty special,” said Bellinger. “I didn’t know it was my 100th until I was told in the dugout afterward. I’m blessed and hope I can keep going.”
August 20, 2019: Cody went 2-for-3, notching 100 RBI. And the first Dodger to have his pants fall down while trying to stretch his three-run double into a triple. The smile on his face was not for the 100th RBI.
“Definitely, the pants,” said Bellinger. “It was funny. Thankfully, I had sliders on. The belt didn’t break. My pants just fell down. I literally don’t know how.” (Gurnick - mlb.com)
He has hit 27 of his 46 home runs at Dodger Stadium, the most in franchise history.
Nov 7, 2019: Bellinger, a finalist for the NL MVP Award, opened the season white-hot, and though he cooled off some later in the year, he still finished with a .305/.406/.629 slash line, 47 homers and an NL-leading 351 total bases, earning his first Silver Slugger Award.
2020 changes: After winning the NL MVP last season, you wouldn’t think Cody Bellinger would be worried about his swing, but after spending more time thinking about it during the coronavirus shutdown, the young slugger decided to change up his mechanics. ( Jeffrey Bellone - July 13, 2020)
Bellinger’s new stance—as noted by SportsNet LA broadcasters Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra—appears a bit pigeon-toed, which usually is meant to keep the front hip and shoulder closed. He begins with the bat on his shoulder, then rocks it on more of a horizontal than vertical plane. Such changes are mostly implemented to improve rhythm, timing and correct launch position.
Speaking with reporters last week, Bellinger touched on his work during the break.
“I’ve never had that much time and I got a chance to work on my swing and it could be a blessing in the long run,” Bellinger said. “I’m not making any big adjustment. There’s always small points in your swing that you realize make you good. You just try to be as consistent with those as you can. I just had time to work on it in a stress-free environment. So, nothing major at all. Just the minor things I always think about throughout the year.
“Figuring out why I was so good and remembering the feeling and also not being too caught up on last year and not try to be identical to last year, because you’re always growing and always evolving. I just feel really good with where I am this year.” (K Gurnick - MLB.com - July 13, 2020)
Oct 9, 2020: Bellinger, the reigning NL MVP Award winner, had a superb series of his own in the 2020 NLDS as the Dodgers swept the division-rival Padres.
Bellinger did it all with his bat and his glove. He batted .333 with one home run, one triple and an 1.179 OPS in the series. And he made maybe the biggest play of the year in center field in Game 2. With the Dodgers holding a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning, Bellinger robbed Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. of a potential go-ahead two-run homer, leaping above the center-field wall to bring Tatis’ drive back into the ballpark.
First 24 games: .175/.245/.320Last 32 games: .293/.401/.569
Bellinger had a comedown from his 2019 MVP season, but the drop-off wasn’t as steep as it appears. It was merely a slow start for first three-and-a-half weeks, followed by a return to form as one of the game’s elite sluggers. Better strike-zone discipline was a key part of Bellinger’s surge. He had nine walks and 21 strikeouts in his first 24 games, compared to 21 walks and 24 strikeouts in his final 32 games. (Kyle Glaser - BA - April, 2021)
Spring Training 2021: Cody took his first Cactus League at-bats since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder over the 2020 offseason, and there was a noticeable difference in the Dodgers outfielder’s batting stance.
Bellinger is still standing straight up, but his stance was clearly more open than it was during the 2020 season. The batting stance he broke out during this game was closer to what it looked like during the '17 season, the year he took home National League Rookie of the Year honors.
“I had a lot of downtime with the surgery, so I had a lot of time to think,” Bellinger said. “I’ve done it in the past, had success with it, and to be honest, I just feel really good with it.”
Bellinger said the change in stance had nothing to do with the approach opposing pitchers took last season, or the fact that he hit just .236 against four-seam fastballs last year as opposed to .328 against the pitch in 2019. The change was all about comfort, he said. (Toribio - mlb.com - 3/16/2021)
- As of the start of the 2022 season, Cody's career Major League stats were: .257 batting average, 133 home runs and 546 hits with 354 RBI in 2,123 at-bats.
Cody is a well above-average defender at first base. He looks like a shortstop playing first base. He is really outstanding there, displaying Gold Glove potential.
It is very rare that a scout mentions a first baseman's defense before discussing his bat, but Bellinger is that rarity. He is light on his feet and his footwork is very good. And he has soft hands and a strong left handed arm.
Bellinger gets a 70 grade for his glove-work at first base, And he has a 60 arm.
Bellinger is light on his feet and shows smooth footwork and soft hands. Some scouts compare him to a young Adam LaRoche. Now that's good defense.
Cody has a strong arm.
He can also play left or right field and provide 50 grade defense, there. He is stretched a bit thin in center, with only average speed.
He combines athleticism with advanced feel for the game.
In addition to superb defense, Bellinger grades as an above-average defender with a plus arm in the outfield corners, but his glove is Gold Glove-caliber at first base. He sees more fielding chances there than in the outfield, and his soft hands help him dig out low throws from infielders at first base.
Bellinger has the speed to play either left or right field. But his defense is so excellent at first base—why would you move him?
"Belly's a fluid athlete with ridiculously good instincts and an advanced understanding of where to be on the field at any given time,” Dodgers farm director Gabe Kapler said in August 2015. “He’s graceful at first base but has also demonstrated the ability to roam center field. At this point, getting physically and mentally stronger through his off-the-field work—both training and nutrition—can propel him to elite levels.”
2017 scouting report: Not only is Bellinger the best power-hitting prospect in baseball, but he's one of the top defensive first basemen to come through the Minors in years. He moves well around the bag, scoops throws out of the dirt, owns solid arm strength—and as a bonus, he can play all three outfield positions if needed.
They've already had him work in the outfield the last two years after playing him solely at first base in his first two seasons in the minors. He still hasn't played out there a lot, but Bellinger started games in left field, center field and right field at Double-A Tulsa.
“The more positions you can play the better—for now and the future. So I’m all for it. It only helps the player and helps the team if you can play multiple positions waiting for a spot to open," Cody said.
Bellinger spent a good deal of his time in big league camp working with Dodgers coach George Lombard “to learn more about the outfield.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gave Bellinger ample playing time during the Cactus League at first base and in the outfield.
“I think he is a plus-plus defender at first base and more than serviceable at all three outfield spots,” Roberts said. “Last spring he was on fire (offensively). He had a great spring. This year, not so much. But his demeanor hasn’t changed.” (Bill Plunkett - Baseball America - 5/12/2017)
In the 2019 season, Bellinger was tied for second among outfielders with 22 defensive runs saved and tied for fourth in the NL with 10 outfield assists. He seamlessly moved around from right field to center field to first base.
From 2017-2020 for the Dodgers, Bellinger played both first base and outfield.
2019: Fielding Bible Award winner (RF) and multi-postion: Bellinger was seven Outs Above Average in the outfield this season. He has a rocket arm in the corner, and he can play a great center field, too. He's the first Dodgers outfielder to win a Fielding Bible Award.
Bellinger's versatility only helps the Dodgers get more out of his elite all-around talent. He can play right field. He can play center field. He can play first base. Bellinger became the first player to win two Fielding Bible Awards in the same season.
In 2019, Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers won his first career Gold Glove as the best right fielder in the NL.
- May 27, 2019: Bellinger threw out Carlos Gómez, who was tagging from second, at third to end the eighth inning and save a run against the Mets.
Oct 7, 2020: The Dodgers countered Manny Machado’s epic bat-flip with an epic glove-flip.
Bellinger made a sensational leaping catch at the center-field wall at Globe Life Field to rob Fernando Tatis Jr. of a potential go-ahead home run in the seventh inning of the Dodgers' 6-5 win over the Padres in Game 2 of the NLDS. That incredible grab prompted reliever Brusdar Graterol to throw his glove and hat in celebration.
"Great players make great plays in big moments, and Cody did just that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Man, I just don't know many guys that can make that play. He got turned around a little bit, but he still recovered his length and his ability to jump and control his body. It was a game-changing play."
With a runner on and two outs in the seventh, Tatis drove a first-pitch, 99 mph sinker from Graterol deep to center field, but Bellinger sprinted back to the wall and made a perfectly timed jump to snag the ball, preserving the Dodgers’ 4-3 lead. Bellinger covered a total of 97 feet on the inning-ending play, according to Statcast. (M Guardado - MLB.com - Oct 8, 2020)
Cody's speed isn't exactly a secret. He steals some bases. But his slugging still makes it too easy to overlook just how fast he is. Bellinger is one of the fastest players in the Majors.
His sprint speed in 2019 is 29.2 feet per second. ("Spring speed" is the average top speed on max-effort runs. The MLB average is 27 ft./second.) Bellinger ranks among baseball's Top 20 fastest runners by sprint speed, out of nearly 400 qualifiers, and he's the Dodgers' fastest player.
It's fun to watch Bellinger fly around the bases, but where he really stands out is the first 90 feet. And his home-to-first speed has had a real impact on his batting average.
If you can get down the first-base line in under four seconds, that's serious speed—the type of speed that can turn groundouts into infield hits, and make bunting for a hit a weapon at your disposal. Bellinger has that extra dimension. He has the most sub-4 home-to-first times of any player in 2019.
Most sub-4-second home-to-1st times, 2019 — 1) Bellinger (LAD): 12 2) Kevin Kiermaier (TB): 8 3) Billy Hamilton (KC): 7
Five of Bellinger's sub-4 home-to-first times have resulted in infield hits. On two others, the ball just happened to get through to the outfield. On four of the five infield hits, Bellinger's sprint speed was at least 30 ft./sec.
So the next time you see Bellinger put the ball on the ground, don't take your eyes off the screen just because he didn't go deep. There's a decent shot he'll develop a hit out of what looked like nothing. (Adler - mlb.com - 5/19/19)
May 15, 2020: Who is the fastest runner on the Dodgers? Cody Bellinger.
According to Statcast, from home to first, he was at 3.97 seconds in 2019, and his sprint speed is 28.8. Cody Bellinger’s numbers are even better than Mookie Betts’. Bellinger can do it all, and he probably doesn’t get enough credit for his running speed because he hits so many home runs. He stole 15 bases in 2019, leading the Dodgers. Bellinger’s outfield ground covered also reflects his running speed, and he likes to take advantage of it with all-out hustle on offense and defense. –Ken Gurnick
June 2014: Bellinger separated his right shoulder in a collision.
April 5-29, 2016: Cody was on the D.L. with a hip injury.
Bellinger said the hip bothered him a bit during Spring Training, but he didn't think it was serious. Then came a plane ride from Arizona to Tulsa, then a 12-hour bus ride to Corpus Christi to start the season, and the right side of his hip tightened up.
So Bellinger got on a plane headed back to Arizona. For a week, he said the Drillers tried to figure out what was wrong before deciding it was a nerve issue. Bellinger said he took time to get the inflammation down before returning to extended spring training games. He was pleased to end the month-long absence from the Drillers, which equaled the time he missed with a shoulder injury in 2014 with Ogden.
"It sucks missing a month, but it's a long season," Bellinger said. "It was really crazy. It just came out of nowhere,” Bellinger said of the hip issue that began bothering him late in spring training. “I just thought my hip was super tight, but it gradually got worse.”
Bellinger dealt with his hip injury with rest and physical therapy. He now has a stretching program that he will follow the rest of the season.
August 20-30, 2017: Bellinger was on the DL with a sprained right ankle.
April 15, 2019: Bellinger exited the game after his right knee was drilled by a 95 mph Luis Castillo fastball in the third inning. X-rays were negative.
“That one hurt,” Bellinger said. “Hit me in a good spot, so, nothing serious and wake up and see how I feel. That hurt real bad, for sure. It took a minute or two to stop grimacing. Walked to first, so I knew it was fine. Tried to walk it off, but we decided to get to the training room.”
March 2, 2020: Bellinger was scratched from the starting lineup against the Reds with a sore side, which manager Dave Roberts said was not a big deal.
“He’s fine,” said Roberts. “He felt a little something on his body when he was doing his early work. He wants to play, but we just feel if we give him today and the off-day tomorrow, he’ll be back in there.”
Roberts said Bellinger’s injury was unrelated to his participation in Albert Pujols’ Top Golf charity event.
"It's really not a big deal,” Roberts said. “Cody wants to play. There is no gain. It just makes no sense. I don’t think it’s Top Golf. I really don’t."
Nov. 17, 2020: The Dodgers said that Bellinger underwent shoulder surgery by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. Bellinger is expected to be out 10 weeks, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. He will begin rehab in one week and be able to swing a bat in four weeks.
Feb 24, 2021: After dislocating his right shoulder in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Braves while celebrating a home run with former teammate Enrique Hernández, Cody Bellinger jokingly vowed to retire from forearm-bashing with teammates.
“Never again,” Bellinger said, with a smile. “I will be a handshake guy for the rest of my career, that’s for sure. I’m done with that.” “To continue to have the risk of it popping out is bad for the labrum, and it’s dangerous,” he said. “If it would’ve popped out a few more times, I don’t know for sure, but I think the recovery is even longer. So for me to get it out of the way, and get ready for Opening Day 2021, was worth it.”
March 9, 2021: Bellinger (shoulder surgery) is on track to play center field in his Cactus League debut against the Brewers at Camelback Ranch. Bellinger hit and played in the outfield in an intrasquad game at Camelback Ranch.
“I didn't know what to expect and didn't place too many expectations,” Roberts said. “From what I saw today, I saw four at-bats and I saw him get off a lot of good swings. And for not seeing a lot of live pitching, he was well ahead, so, I was really encouraged today from Cody.”
April 5, 2021: Bellinger was taken out of the game in ninth after a collision at first base with A’s pitcher Reymin Guduan. Manager Dave Roberts said after the game that Bellinger got cleated in the calf area during the play and the team is considering him day to day. Bellinger limped around after the play and carried a slight limp into the visiting clubhouse.
April 6, 2021: Cody was on the Il with left calf contusion.
April 14, 2021: Cody Bellinger continues to progress from a left calf contusion that landed him on the 10-day injured list, but he remains day to day, according to manager Dave Roberts. Bellinger has been out of the Dodgers’ lineup since April 6 after A’s reliever Reymin Guduan accidentally cleated him on the back of the foot in a close play at first base. Since then, Bellinger has done light agility drills on the field, took part in batting practice, and continues to go through rehab with the training staff. Bellinger is still dealing with swelling in the calf area, according to Roberts, and is unable to run at full speed.
“He’s doing a lot of work down below with the trainers and the strength guys,” Roberts said. “I know I keep saying day to day, and I just don’t know when the timetable is for him to return."
April 16-May 29, 2021: Bellinger, who is on the 10-day injured list after A’s pitcher Reymin Guduan cleated him on a close play at first base on April 6, underwent some more scans recently, and it was discovered that he has a hairline fracture in his left fibula.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hesitated to put a timetable on Bellinger’s return, but he said the outfielder is no longer considered day to day, which was his designation before the scans revealed the fracture. May 14, 2021: Bellinger posted a video on Instagram of him running. Roberts said Bellinger was running at 19 mph and that it was at “about 80 percent,” which is a big progression from the 60 percent Bellinger was at last week.
“He was moving,” Roberts said. “It was effortless. He wasn’t compensating.”
If Bellinger continues to heal at this rate, the Dodgers could send him out on a rehab according to Roberts.
June 15-23. 2021: Cody was on the IL with left hammy tightness.
Sept 19, 2021: Bellinger was out of the lineup again, one day after manager Dave Roberts revealed the outfielder had a rib fracture caused by a collision with Gavin Lux earlier in the week. Roberts said there was a chance Bellinger could have played the series finale in Cincinnati but opted to give him two consecutive days off, including the Dodgers’ scheduled off-day Sept. 20.
“We’re going to try to stay away from him, but if we need to call on him at some point, we will,” Roberts said.
Sept 18-28, 2021: Cody was on the IL with non-displaced left rib fracture.
Sept 21, 2021: Bellinger was initially scheduled to be in the Dodgers’ lineup. Those plans quickly changed once Bellinger said he still felt soreness. All the tests and imaging came back clean, which was initially encouraging. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it would all come down to just how much pain Bellinger would be able to withstand.