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Cody Bellinger wins another award

3 months agoAndy Martinez

Cody Bellinger’s peers honored his turnaround in Chicago. 

Now, the outsiders heaped their praise. 

Bellinger was named the 2023 National League Comeback Player of the Year, as voted on by 30 MLB.com writers. The award has been given out annually by MLB since 2005. Bellinger was named the MLB Players Association Comeback Player of the Year earlier in the offseason, an award voted on by his NL-playing peers. 

The left-handed hitter, who became a free agent at the end of the season, had 26 home runs with an .881 OPS with the Cubs, leading them to a surprising season that left them a game short of the playoffs. It was a stark turnaround to his previous three seasons, when he hit .203 with a .648 OPS and 41 home runs in 295 games with the Dodgers. His struggles lead Los Angeles to non-tender him last offseason and the Cubs pounced quickly to acquire Bellinger. 

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“Cody was our top target going into the offseason,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference. “We said we needed a center fielder [and] we thought he was going to get non-tendered by the Dodgers. That was one where all that planning this time of year really paid off.

“We watched a ton of video on him, we focused on him and sometimes those plans go exactly as you hope.”

The Cubs’ faith was rewarded and that’s helped Bellinger hit the open market as the top position player available. The Cubs are interested in bringing him back, but will face stiff competition from around the league. If the Cubs can bring him back he could fill one of two holes the team might have this offseason — centerfield and first base. 

Liam Hendriks of the White Sox was the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Hendriks returned to baseball in 2023 after being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma in December. Hendriks made his season debut on May 29 and pitched in 5 games before suffering an injury that would lead to season-ending Tommy John surgery. 

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