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Bellinger’s Situational Hitting Reveals Baseball’s “Seventh Tool”

Cubs hitters should take their cues from Cody Bellinger, whose situational hitting reveals baseball’s “seventh tool.” Most fans know the first five tools: catching, throwing, running, hitting, and hitting with power. Baseball IQ is the sixth tool employed by a rare few who intuit the game at an elite level. Situational hitting is an oft-overlooked attribute by both players and fans and one that is sorely lacking in the Cubs lineup. It is in this area where Bellinger rises above the pack.

Bellinger’s Situational Hitting Reveals Baseball’s “Seventh Tool”

One Smooth Swinging Slugger

There is no doubt that the home run is one of the most explosive plays in all of sports. But to the more experienced eye, a slugger willing to hit the situation is just sweet. Cody Bellinger’s approach embodies this trait to a tee. When faced with a two-strike count, Bellinger will almost always alter his mindset from big to small. Quieting his lower body, his hands lead the barrel through the zone, sometimes extending over the plate. The result of this approach is very often a line drive into the left or center field. It’s a thing of beauty to behold! But best of all, it drives in runs and extends innings, two areas in which the Cubs are lacking.

Searching For Consistency

This year, the Cubs rank 21 in MLB in RISP. While that’s not the bottom, this team should be hitting better. Some of this can be chalked up to bad luck. Especially lately, Cubs hitters have been hitting the ball hard but at them, as the saying goes. Christopher Morel scorched a drive that Reds’ 3B Jeimer Candelario scooped and turned into an inning-ending double play Sunday night. From there, though, the numbers often get worse.

The Cubs currently rank 26 in BA, 23 in hits, 15 in OBP, 22 in slug, and 21 in OPS. Every division leader has at least one player in the top 25 in hits with two strikes. The Cubs have none. Nico Hoerner (53), Bellinger (49), and Mike Tauchman (48) currently lead the team.

Philadelphia Phillies 3B Alec Bohm leads the league with 29 2-out RBI. The top three Cubs hitters, Morel and Suzuki (13) and Bellinger (12) are well below the top hitters in MLB. All this adds up to a team that struggles to get on base and, when it does, struggles to get runners’ home. The fact that Bellinger and Suzuki’s two weeks and three weeks, respectively, due to injury and leading the team speaks volumes.

A Team Built To “Create” Runs

It’s no secret the Cubs lack power in their lineup. Morel and Patrick Wisdom hit the ball a long way when they connect. But neither will compete with Judge, Stanton, or Alonso. That kind of power is not in the Cubs lineup. This team relies on its ability to get runners on and home through consistent, timely hitting. There is some pop throughout the lineup on the bats of Happ, Bellinger, Suzuki, Morel, Wisdom, and Busch. Each of these players could hit 15 – 25 HR in a season.

Bellinger hit 47 in 2019, the year he won league MVP, but he hasn’t come close to that since. But the slugger’s mastery of the seventh tool, situational hitting, is more than enough to make up the difference. But the Cubs will have to follow his lead to be successful the rest of the way.

Main Photo Credits: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports



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