As the Los Angeles Angels pivot their strategy towards a playoff push, taking superstar Shohei Ohtani off the trade market, the New York Yankees find themselves in a tricky situation. With the imminent return of slugger Aaron Judge and a pressing need for an above-average lefty bat, the Bombers require prompt reinforcements.
Cody Bellinger – A Promising Target
Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger emerges as an obvious target for the Yankees, with his performance this season echoing his 2019 MVP campaign. Boasting a .312 batting average and a .360 OBP over 70 games this season, Bellinger’s stats include 15 home runs, 46 RBIs, 12 stolen bases, and a 140 wRC+. A fielding percentage of .993 and three outs above average underlines his defensive prowess.
Bellinger’s High Performance Under the Yankees’ Radar
ESPN reports that the Yankees, who have monitored Bellinger for months, recently dispatched top scouts to watch his impressive performance in July. As of now, Bellinger is hitting .415 with a .433 OBP and a 1.189 OPS. His home run against the Chicago White Sox added to his impressive stats this season, signifying a strong stretch in form.
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Is Bellinger the Right Fit for Yankees Stadium?
Bellinger’s ability to exploit Yankee Stadium’s short right porch, combined with his slugging prowess, positions him as a potential linchpin in the Yankees’ batting order.
Ranking in the 81st percentile in strike rate, 74th percentile in sprint speed, and 81st percentile in arm strength, Bellinger bolsters his value both defensively and offensively.
Evaluating Bellinger’s Career Metrics
Intriguingly, Bellinger’s hard-hit rate stands at a career-low of 30.9%, with a 6.3% barrel rate and an average exit velocity of 87.3. Yet, his successful season and consistent home run hitting contradict these low slugging metrics. An outstanding July and a strong start to the season in April have significantly boosted his numbers.
Trade Decisions: Cubs’ Stand and Yankees’ Fate
The pivotal question is whether the Cubs will sell Bellinger or shift their focus toward the playoffs, where they’re gaining traction. Without Bellinger, the Yankees’ World Series aspirations might fade, given the limited talent available on the market.
With the Cubs six games behind the NL Central and 4.5 games back in the Wild Card, their situation echoes the Yankees’, albeit more favorably, within their division. The Yankees hold a two-game advantage over the Cubs in the Wild Card (albeit in different conferences), but a few wins could change the game for either side.