5 feel-good Chicago Cubs stories heading into Opening Day
Cody Bellinger gave hope for a bounceback in 2023
As a big Cody Bellinger fan, I, like many Cubs fans, was eager to see if the former NL MVP could return to form now that he's fully healthy. Although signed to vastly improve the team's dismal center field defense, he's an x-factor for this team if he ends up performing even a fraction as well as his 2019 season. Say what you will about Spring Training games, but his performance helped keep hopes of a Bellinger bounceback alive.
The numbers are a bit of a mixed bag with a .200/.296/.467 slash line, but his swing definitely looked better than in previous years and it was good to see the power return. He showed a consistent ability to drive the ball, even if the results weren't always optimal. It was the kind of performance that suggested with more time, and better luck, he could make that slash line a lot better. Add in three home runs on top of it all and it's enough to be a bit optimistic about what he can offer throughout the season. It also helps that he's reunited with former Dodgers organization members Dustin Kelly and Johnny Washington to aid with any adjustments.
If he keeps showing he can hammer the ball as that and more of those outs turn to hits, that power will be highly valued in a Cubs lineup that is lacking in offensive juggernauts. Bellinger hardly has to be an MVP, but if he can be above average and establish himself as a solid regular, that would be golden.