Dodgers’ Bellinger on an early pur­suit of .400

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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.

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