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Will Cody Bellinger Earn An Extension With The Dodgers?

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(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger was on top of the world when he won the 2019 National League MVP award, after hitting a monster .305/.406/.629 with 47 home runs, 121 runs, 115 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.

After that season, however, he has been on a downward slide in subsequent seasons.

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In 2020, he hit .239/.333/.455 with 12 homers in 56 games during the pandemic season: not MVP-like, but adequate.

Still, people began to worry about his performance drop-off.

The disaster came in 2021.

 

A 2021 To Forget

In 350 plate appearances, the lefty-hitting slugger hit a paltry .165/.240/.302 with just 10 homers and a career-high 26.9 percent strikeout rate.

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He was much, much worse than the MLB average judging by his 48 wRC+ (weighted Runs Created Plus, where 100 is considered average).

For reference, he had a 161 wRC+ during his MVP year and he was at 113 in 2020.

His ugly 2021 performance complicates his prospects of getting an extension from the Dodgers.

Los Angeles isn’t afraid to spend some money, but with two arbitration seasons remaining on Bellinger’s contract, they will surely be happy to see if he can rebound in 2022 before committing to bring him in for the long term.

In early 2020, he was a prime extension candidate, but at this point, it wouldn’t make much sense for the Dodgers to make such a proposal given his ugly 2021 and subpar 2020.

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Bellinger, a low-ball hitter, was exploited with high fastballs for much of the 2021 regular season.

He hit .150 against fastballs in 2021, a far cry off the .236 he had in 2020 and the .327 he had in 2019.

The situation was so bad at one point that the Dodgers had to sit him against left-handers: he hit .116 off them.

He was worth a negative 0.8 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) last season.

However, there are reasons to be optimistic about his 2022 outlook.

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Making Adjustments At The Plate

For starters, Bellinger hit .353/.436/.471 in the 2021 postseason, with some crucial hits.

He made adjustments with his swing to better hit high fastballs.

Per FanGraphs’ Brendan Gawlowski:

“Starting in the postseason, Cody Bellinger has made a few adjustments. He’s shifted his position in the box, he’s striding more toward the pitcher (as opposed to the first base dugout), and he’s shown an ability to flatten his bat path on high fastballs. Anecdotally, he looks a little less stiff to me and his swing decisions seem better.”

During the National League Championship Series, he had an impressive home run against a Luke Jackson 96 mph fastball way up in the zone.

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This is a very important development for him with an eye on the future.

He has shown he can inflict damage to low pitches, but if he can consistently do the same against high heat, there is a path for him to return to being a well-above average hitter.

If that happens, perhaps the Dodgers could be open to extending him after 2022, given that he contributes defensively at a crucial position (center field), is athletic, can run, and has a solid track record prior to 2020.

Even during his 2021 struggles, Bellinger has given glimpses of his vast potential and could turn things around in 2022.

The post Will Cody Bellinger Earn An Extension With The Dodgers? appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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Zach Wilson to undergo an MRI after suffering knee injury in Jets’ first preseason game

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USATSI

Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson departed New York’s preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles after suffering a knee injury. With over four minutes to play in the first quarter, Wilson took a first-and-10 snap from New York’s 40-yard line and scrambled out right. As he turned upfield, Wilson tried to make a cut towards the middle of the field to shake loose a would-be tackler and went down awkwardly. 

He initially was helped up by a teammate and had a noticeable limp. Wilson was then sent to the locker room for further evaluation and the Jets officially ruled him questionable to return with a knee injury. Wilson did not return to the game, and afterwords, Jets coach Robert Saleh told reporters that Wilson will undergo an MRI on Saturday. 

Given that this is merely an exhibition, it wouldn’t be surprising for the team to keep him sidelined for the rest of the game even if he is healthy enough to go. This injury does have some room for concern, however, because it doesn’t appear like Wilson was touched as he went down to the field. And anytime there’s a non-contact injury, it should leave the team holding its breath. 

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Prior to the injury, Wilson wasn’t off to a hot start. On the Jets’ opening drive of the evening, he threw a poor interception to Eagles linebacker Kyzir White on a pass intended for Corey Davis. Wilson completed three of his five passes for 23 yards and that pick before going down. 

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft is entering his sophomore season after a rocky rookie campaign. In 13 games, he completed just 55.6% of his passes for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. 





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Tommy Pham hits walk-off single to give Red Sox a 3-2 victory over Yankees

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Tommy Pham ripped a walk-off single to give the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees in ten innings.



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Fernando Tatis Jr. suspension: An optimistic look at the Padres’ season without their star shortstop

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The Padres have lost shortstop Fernando Tatis, Jr. for the rest of the season and into May of next year. He’s been suspended 80 games for a violation of the league’s joint drug agreement

Of course, the Padres haven’t had Tatis all season, so did they actually lose him? 

If it sounds like I’m about to go on a path of optimism in looking at the prospects for the Padres moving forward during Tatis’ suspension, that’s because it’s exactly what I’m going to do. Look, I grew up a Cubs fan. I’ve had to be an eternal optimist for the entirety of my sports fandom in order to maintain sanity. It comes in handy at times like these, so I’ll channel that energy here for the sake of Padres fans — really, for any baseball fans who wanted to see new blood late in the playoffs in the form of these Padres. 

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But mostly those Padres fans who are reeling right now. Let’s get to it. 

Padres haven’t had Tatis anyway

As noted, the Padres have gotten zero games from Tatis this season, so it’s not like they lost a lineup fixture who has been doing heavy lifting for the team all season. That’s what Manny Machado has been doing, and he’s fully capable of continuing to have a huge season. He’s a 29-year-old seasoned veteran. He won’t run out of gas. 

The Padres as a whole have been in playoff position basically all season. They started 14-7 and have been under .500 just one day this season — when they started 0-1. 

A big part of the Padres’ success this season has been the rotation. It’s been one of the better rotations in baseball this season, and with Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger and Sean Manaea, it figures to remain strong into the playoffs. The Tatis injury doesn’t affect that. 

What needed a boost was the offense. 

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Trade deadline additions

Let’s just take Tatis out of the equation entirely for 2022. Let’s say he was out for the season from the get-go and we never even thought about his return. We’d be talking about a team that was 60-46 through Aug. 2. The starting pitching was in great shape. The bullpen was good as well and added elite potential in Josh Hader in front of the deadline. 

The offense needed a boost. Machado is the star while Jake Cronenworth and Jurickson Profar were having quality offensive seasons, but they needed more. 

Josh Bell was hitting .301/.384/.493 (152 OPS+) with 24 doubles, three triples, 14 homers, 57 RBI and 52 runs in 103 games, and the Padres added him. Brandon Drury was hitting .274/.335/.520 (126 OPS+) with 22 doubles, two triples, 22 homers, 59 RBI and 62 runs in 92 games, and the Padres also added him. 

And, of course, they added one of the best and most polished hitters in baseball: Juan Soto

So, we’re talking about a team that was 14 games over .500 adding a top-shelf closer, two very good offensive players and a generational talent. 

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It sure seems like there’s a chance they’ll be OK, right? 

Division title was unattainable

One area they won’t be OK is in the race for the NL West. That’s over. After being swept by the Dodgers this past weekend, the Padres were facing a 16-game deficit in the division heading into Friday. They were never, ever going to make that many games up in this short period of time. Even if Tatis came back 100 percent healthy and played exponentially better than he ever has, they’d still fall short in the division. 

Follow the Braves’ path? 

In terms of sheer talent level, age and potential moving forward, Ronald Acuña, Jr. is a fair comparison for Tatis. He finished second in MVP voting at age 21 while Tatis finished third at age 22. Acuña might have been en route to an MVP last season, too, but he tore his ACL on July 10. 

The Braves were able to rally without him for a World Series championship. This was a team that only won 88 regular-season games, making them the playoff team with the worst record. They beat a 95-win Brewers team in the NLDS, a 106-win Dodgers team in the NLCS and then a 95-win Astros team in the World Series. 

No two teams ever have the same circumstances. We all know this. The 2021 Braves doesn’t mean the 2022 Padres are going to win the World Series. No one truly believes that. It doesn’t hurt for the team to look at a situation and believe they can pull off something similar, though. Plus, as we established here at the top, the Padres didn’t technically lose Tatis this season, as he never played a game. They also had a better record through July than those Braves did. The Braves didn’t add a player the caliber of Soto at the trade deadline. 

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Hell, if anything, these Padres are better suited for a deep run than those Braves were. 

This has been your optimistic spin on the Padres’ current situation, vis a vis the Tatis suspension. 

Did it work, San Diego? 



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