Dodgers’ Bellinger on an early pursuit of .400
Probably one of the most difficult feats in baseball is hitting .400.
It’s a mark last achieved by Ted Williams in 1941 and only a few have approached the milestone since. But two-plus months into the 2019 season, a new candidate has emerged.
Enter Cody Bellinger, the sweet-swinging right fielder of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who as of late May was in the midst of a breakout season with a blistering .394 average, 17 home runs, a .478 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.243.
Now, all he has to do is maintain the pace.
His teammates and coaches say his performance is no fluke. The third-year man has fine-tuned his batting eye this season and is swinging at fewer bad pitches. The result: Walks are up, strikeouts are down and more batted balls are becoming line drives in play, which means more balls are going for hits.
Of course, skeptics will point out that it’s still early. A 162game season, it is said, is the great equalizer and stuff can happen – as the close-but-no-cigar efforts of Rod Carew (.388 in 1977), George Brett (.390 in 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.394 in 1994), all Hall of Famers, will attest. And this is a guy who hit a collective .263 his first two years in the league.
And then, of course, there is The Shift.
Still, it’s fun to speculate.
Bellinger and the Dodgers can be seen in action Sunday, June 16, on ESPN, when they take on the Chicago Cubs in the finale of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.