Cody Bellinger is hitting over .400 right now, but can he sustain it all season?
After going 1-for-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Cody Bellinger’s batting average dropped to .404. He’s also leading the majors in on-base percentage (.487), slugging percentage (.783), OPS (1.271), OPS+ (238), total bases (130), RBI (44), hits (67) and runs scored (43). He has also delivered 4.7 bWAR, clearly outpacing other position players right now.
The last .400 hitter in MLB was Ted Williams in 1941. Tony Gwynn made a run at .400 during the strike-shortened 1994 season (.394), but no one else has made a legit run at it deep into the season.
Approaching Memorial Day, and June after that, does Bellinger have a legit chance to hit .400 for the season?
One critical key to maintaining a high batting average is putting the ball in play a lot. Bellinger has only struck out in 14.1 percent of his plate appearances so far this season. He’s also hitting the ball hard (52.5 percent hard hit rate) with top-level average exit velocity (92.9 MPH entering Tuesday).
Bellinger’s line drive rate (33.6 percent) would be a clear career-high right now, and 70 percent of his batted balls are either line drives or fly balls. Hitting the ball hard, and the majority of the time on a line or in the air, is a recipe for a high batting average even further backed by peripherals (.403 BABIP).
Matt Snyder of CBS Sports went another step, taking a closer look at Bellinger’s speed out of the batter’s box. According to Baseball Savant’s data, Bellinger was in the 95th percentile in sprint speed entering Tuesday and he was No. 1 among all players in speed from home to first (3.88 seconds).
That .403 BABIP is simply not sustainable, so Bellinger’s average will naturally drop some along with it. But there’s no doubt he’s hitting the ball hard, can beat out infield hits on occasion and might have the broader mental profile to set aside the pressure and hit .400 for the season.
Next to Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, someone hitting .400 again is one of most unbreakable marks in baseball and all of sports. But if Bellinger can stay within range for the next few months, it will be fun to watch someone try to make a legitimate run at it.