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What to expect from Cody Bellinger in 2022

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Taking a gander at season projections

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MLB: NLCS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With no more 2021 seasons to look back on — if you missed any of the 72 Dodgers players we reviewed, they are all in one spot for easy perusal — we can now look ahead to the 2022 season, even if the beginning of said season is an unknown quantity at this point.

Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs unveiled his ZiPS projections for the Dodgers on Friday, which foresees stellar seasons from Trea Turner (5.5 WAR) and Mookie Betts (5.3), as well as Walker Buehler (4.6) and Will Smith (4.3). But I’m most interested in statistical projections for Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger suffered through a season that saw him hit just .165/.340/.402 while recovering from shoulder surgery, and missed time with a fractured fibula, a hamstring strain, and cracked ribs over the course of the year. It’s hard to account for such a season just two years after winning National League MVP, let alone trying to discern what to expect going forward. Some improvement seems obvious, if only for Bellinger getting a full, healthy offseason and will enter 2022 a year further removed from shoulder surgery, so he should see a power resurgence of sorts.

Couple in Bellinger’s gradual improvement amid swing changes as the season progressed — he was hitting the ball harder in the second half, as noted by Eno Sarris at The Athletic in December — with his solid performance in the playoffs, there are reasons to be hopeful for Bellinger’s 2022.

In addition to ZiPS, FanGraphs also has Steamer projections. Also, The Bill James Handbook for 2022 has projections of their own, giving us some idea what Bellinger could reasonably be expected to produce this season. But there’s still a wide range. As Szymborski wrote, “I have absolutely no idea what kind of player he really is right now; I wouldn’t be surprised by anything between Ken Griffey Jr. and Craig Griffey.”

Cody Bellinger 2022 projections

Projection PA HR BA/OBP/SLG Other
Projection PA HR BA/OBP/SLG Other
Bill James 590 31 .247/.337/.488 26 doubles
Steamer 543 27 .243/.331/.469 114 wRC+
ZiPS 507 25 .245/.333/.477 115 OPS+
Source: FanGraphs & Bill James Handbook

Bellinger’s isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) is projected to be between .227-.248 this year, which is more in line with his career mark of .253. His lowest ISO from 2017-20 was .210, but he cratered at .137 in his injury-filled 2021.

ZiPS have Bellinger, including his defense in center field, at 3.1 fWAR for 2022, which seems more in line with his previous, non-MVP years: 4.0 fWAR in 2017, 3.6 in 2018, and 1.2 in 2020, the latter on pace for 3.2 fWAR over 162 games.

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