An honest evaluation of Cody Bellinger's 2024 offensive production

The former Rookie of the Year and MVP needs to tap into his power stroke - and soon.
Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants
Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Of all the players on the team, it was a bit surprising to see Cody Bellinger being the one to make the incredibly frustrating baserunning gaffe in Friday's game. Yet, it perfectly sums up the 2024 season, so it's not that surprising. Bellinger has been a topic of several discussions surrounding the current state of the Chicago Cubs and where they are heading. When he returned this season, the hope was he would continue to do what he did in 2023 when he was the team's MVP.

Well, the results this year have not quite lived up to 2023. However, that is not to say he has been awful either. Some of the numbers are worth digging into because they tell a few stories.

On the surface, the offensive numbers look fine: .267/.327/.421 with a .748 OPS, nine homers and a 110 wRC+. Not spectacular, but not bad compared to his season numbers last year (albeit a bigger sample of games) at .307/.356/.525 with a .834 OPS and 134 wRC+. Considering Bellinger was playing for a new contract on his "prove it" deal last year, it was reasonable to believe that the numbers this season could dip a tad. He also got off to a slow start, hitting just .172 over his first 15 games, but he did heat up after that. However, the big piece missing from his game this season has been his power.

Over his last 30 games, Bellinger is hitting .294/.336/.395. In terms of average, that's pretty good and the on-base is not bad either. However the slug is under .400. Over those 30 games, he has just two homers and six doubles, eight extra-base knocks total. I'm not saying hitting singles is necessarily bad, but Bellinger is supposed to be one of the primary run producers and the Cubs need him to slug more. Since he returned from the rib injury in early May, he has just four homers in 47 games. Could the injury have had an impact? One could wonder.

Given the team's offensive struggles, one might think Bellinger is a culprit coming up with hits in big spots. However, the numbers don't bear that out. The former Rookie of the Year is hitting .328/.427/.463 with runners in scoring position. Last season he hit .323/.383/.515 with those spots. Both slashes in that department look pretty good. He is also hitting .292/.485/.458 with runners in scoring position and two outs and .364/.420/.455 in late/close games this year. Again though, even the good RISP average and OBP see the slug isn't quite the same.

Cubs need more from Cody Bellinger when they're trailing in games

When the game is tied or the Cubs are trailing, though, Bellinger has taken a step in the wrong direction. When playing from behind, Bellinger is hitting just .232/.260/.343 compared to last year when he hit .326/.386/.541. Time and time again last year, he was the guy who came up with the big hit to get the team back in the game but hasn't been able to replicate that in 2024.

He is also hitting .238/.325/.455 with the score tied this year, compared to last year's .306/.336/.515 line in those spots. So many times in 2023 he came through or set things up throughout a close game. One last thing to point out is his hitting with two outs and nobody on. It does not seem like much, especially with nobody on base to drive in, but in that situation this year he's hitting just .180/.264/.321. Last season he hit .328/.349/.705 in that situation. He did a very good job keeping an inning alive in 2023, which does make a difference.

Putting it all together, Bellinger is having a fine year. Still, he's come up well short of being the same offensive presence he was in his first year in Chicago or the one Jed Hoyer hoped for when handing him a $30 million salary for this season. The 2024 production can help a team, but not carry one. If he can't find his power stroke, it's hard to see this offense turning the corner.