Top Bounce-Back Candidate: Chicago Cubs

In our continuing series, we're looking at one player from each team who's in line to be a top bounce-back candidate. When we turn our attention to the Chicago Cubs, it's impossible to ignore one of their big offseason additions—a former MVP who's fallen on hard times. 

Could a change of uniform from the Los Angeles Dodgers to the Cubbies turn the tide for Cody Bellinger? 

In 2019, Bellinger hit .305, with 47 home runs, 115 RBIs and a 1.035. In the three years since then, he has a total of 41 round-trippers, while hitting just over the .200 mark with an OPS in the mid-600s. At 27 years old, he should be in the prime of his career. Instead, he registered as simply one of the worst hitters in baseball the past two seasons.

But 2023 brings promise of a bounce-back of some sorts for three reasons:

  • The change of venues will do him wonders. With the Dodgers, it was World Series or Bust every season. They just didn't have the patience to wait for Belli to figure things out anymore. The Cubs aren't expected to contend for any world titles this season, and can be a lot more patient with him. In addition,  Bellinger will be playing in the 'Friendly Confines' of Wrigley Field, generally a more amenable ballpark than Dodger Stadium for hitters.
  • The shift has been banned. As a left-handed hitter, the increasing proliferation of the shift over the past few years has had a terrible impact on Bellinger, and simply believing that he can pull a ball to the right side and have a better chance at getting on base should boost his confidence.
  • He's been working on swing adjustments again this season, but this time with some new hitting coaches. 
A fresh start with a new organization, and the chance of a Bellinger bounce-back looks like a decent bet. The Cubs are sure betting on it. 

Photo: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports