Cody Bellinger, the 2019 National League Most Valuable Player Award recipient, delivered his first hit since joining the Chicago Cubs over the season on Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds. Fittingly, given his history, it was a home run -- a three-run shot to stake the Cubs to an early lead:
Bellinger's blast, hit off a hanging breaking ball from Connor Overton, had an exit velocity of 98.9 mph and traveled some 384 feet, according to Statcast.
Bellinger entered Monday hitless in his first three games with the Cubs. He'd gone 0 for 11 with a walk and four strikeouts in Chicago's weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Off stretches have, unfortunately, become a common occurrence for him in recent years. Since winning the MVP in 2019, he's amassed a 73 OPS+ and a 25.1 percent strikeout rate in 298 games.
Those marks are a departure from the ones Bellinger put up earlier in his career. Over his first three seasons in The Show, he hit for a 144 OPS+ and homered 111 times. In addition to winning the MVP, he also won the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award in unanimous fashion, beating out a field that included St. Louis Cardinals infielder Paul DeJong, then-Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, and injured Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins, among others.
Bellinger has started each of the Cubs' four games to date in center field. He's batted fourth in three of the four, with the exception coming in a game the Cubs faced a left-handed starter.
Bellinger's pact, a one-year deal worth $12.5 million, includes a mutual option for next season valued at $25 million. That option can be bought out for $5 million, meaning Bellinger is guaranteed at least $17.5 million from the Cubs.