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2023 Cubs player profiles: Cody Bellinger

The fourth in a series of capsule biographies. As Bellinger goes, the Cubs will go. He wants to simplify the game and let his talent take over. He and the Cubs have a mutual option should things turn out well.

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Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Cody James Bellinger opened the 2023 season as the starting center fielder for YOUR CHICAGO CUBS. His prowess with the glove at the position is well-known and a distinct asset in the Cubs’ defense-first philosophy. His bat has been less-potent than it had once been, in his prime Dodger years, however, there is every indication that he is injury-free and working to eliminate mechanical errata in his swing.

So far this year, he has an unprepossessing .167/.265/.257 batting line with one home run and six RBI. Those numbers are well below even his 2021-22 lines and much more is expected. Several members of the BCB staff feel that Bellinger could be a Comeback Player of the Year candidate, but this remains to be seen

David Ross has mostly been batting Bellinger in the cleanup spot, where his home-run power and RBI knack can play best, but he’ll have to be productive to maintain that spot, as he has moved a bit since the beginning of the year, depending on the pitcher. His glove keeps him in the lineup for now.

Should Bellinger’s bat come alive, he’s a candidate also to be offered in trade or extended an offer to remain with the team should they play well enough as a squad to stand pat or buy. It’s a complex situation, tied with the Ian Happ set of scenarios and the readiness of heralded young players at Triple A Iowa, where an entire starting outfield is nearly ready for prime time.

In any event, he’s with the team for now, one of a quartet of players with the big natural power that fans like and managers value — Patrick Wisdom, Edwin Rios, and Ian Happ being the others. In his MVP year, 2019, Bellinger swatted 47 deep flies, though his mean is probably around 30, which would play very well indeed. A representative line based on his lifetime averages (.247/.331/.485 with 33 home runs and 92 RBI per 162 games) would very possibly have the Cubs looking in to retain his services and would go a long way toward the team getting into contention (there’s a mutual option for 2024 in his contract).

Former Rookie-of-the-Year Bellinger (2017) has won one World Championship (2020) with the Dodgers, and one would assume that he’d like to at least match his father, Clay Bellinger, who won two as a member of the New York Yankees.

Chandler, Arizona native Bellinger is 27 years old, and should be in the prime of his career — injuries marred a couple of seasons, and recovery from pain and bad mechanics has taken some time. The jury, indeed, is still out, but the sample size is at-present 34 plate appearances, and that’s not enough to make any sort of summary judgements upon.

Patrick Mooney of The Athletic feels that hitting will determine Bellinger’s future {$}, which is exactly en pointe. Bellinger is no fan of the shift and is glad to see it gone... perhaps this will result in a few more hits for him.

“It’s nice to see hits that have always been hits be hits again,” Bellinger said.

Bellinger’s fortunes and the Cubs’ fortunes are the same, for now. “Those two ideas — Bellinger getting into a groove and the Cubs staying relevant this summer — appear interconnected,” says Mooney in his article. Andy Martinez avers that Bellinger is finding his groove, having delivered in some key spots recently and with increasing frequency. He had a three-hit, one walk game against the Cincinnati Reds.

“I know it’ll all work out,” Bellinger said before a 2-0 victory Friday against the Rangers, in which he logged his first Wrigley Field hit.

Bellinger was almost a Duck. He signed to attend the University of Oregon but decided to report to the Dodgers when a $700,000 bonus was proffered, reasonably high for a fourth-round pick (124th overall in 2013).

He reported to the Dodgers and rose from A ball to the Major Leagues in three years and change — though not without struggles here and there. Cody Bellinger is never going to be a high-average hitter — he’s looking to drive the ball. The contact game is for some of the people that hit in front of him. He likes it that way and appreciates their skills.

As Bellinger goes, the Cubs will go. Let’s hope he WAS the best low-risk bet in Free Agency, as one scribe wrote.

Thanks for reading. Trey Mancini is up next in this series, with Eric Hosmer, Patrick Wisdom, and Tucker Barnhart after that.


You choose the No. 9 hitter in this lineup — poll closes at midnight CT Monday 4/10

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  • 58%
    Nick Madrigal
    (42 votes)
  • 25%
    Edwin Rios
    (18 votes)
  • 13%
    Miles Mastrobuoni
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    Luis Torrens
    (2 votes)
72 votes total Vote Now