Cody Bellinger envisions regaining MVP form with Chicago Cubs

Mar 26, 2023; Mesa, Arizona, USA;  Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger (24) rounds the bases
Mar 26, 2023; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger (24) rounds the bases / Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

The success of the Chicago Cubs' 2023 season may be dependent on the health of center fielder Cody Bellinger. Bellinger signed with the Cubs after spending the first six seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he earned National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 and National League Most Valuable Player honors in 2019.

For Bellinger, as he told Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times, there was nothing that he could do wrong.

"‘‘Amazing,’’ he says. ‘‘You feel like you’re the man. You feel on top of the world. You feel confident, cocky, arrogant. You don’t even feel the ball off the bat. It just goes.’’"

Cody Bellinger via Chicago Sun-Times

What followed the 2019 season was a downfall that saw Bellinger regress to the point where he was considered to be broken from an offensive standpoint. Bellinger's offensive struggles were the primary reason why the Dodgers opted not to tender the outfielder a contract for the 2023 season and made him the perfect target for the Cubs.

With the top of the Cubs' prospect rankings littered with outfielders in Brennen Davis, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Kevin Alcantara, the Cubs were not in the market for a long-term solution in their outfielder for the 2023 Major League season. Still, the Cubs were a team that was aggressive this offseason with the goal of raising their floor of expectations at the Major League level in 2023 and Bellinger certainly was a short-term upgrade.

Expecting Bellinger to regain his MVP form with the Cubs in 2023 is not a realistic expectation though the Gold Glove outfielder is excited about that possibility.

"‘‘It would be a beautiful thing to do it in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field,’’ he says, ‘‘and I’m looking forward to it and excited to be here.’’"

Cody Bellinger via Chicago Sun-Times

Bellinger proved during his Spring Training performance with the Cubs that he was healthy and he was driving the ball consistently. Bellinger's ability to elevate the ball is what the Cubs desperately lacked last season. FanGraphs ZIPS projections have Bellinger hitting 18 home runs with a wRC+ of 99 this season with the Cubs. That is not far off from what the Cubs will need from Bellinger this season as his power could be the difference between whether the Cubs are a contender or will be in a position to sell at the trade deadline.