Josh Bell is Spending September Looking For Consistency, Rather Than Tinkering

PITTSBURGH — Pirates first baseman Josh Bell isn’t a player that ever really gets comfortable doing one thing. Especially when it comes to his swing.

Bell is a notorious tinkerer. Whether it’s the positioning of his front foot, his hands, his back elbow, he’s not afraid to go out and try new things — even at the major-league level.

Part of that stems from his .262 career batting average being a lot lower than the .303 mark he posted in the minors and a desire to increase that figure. But a good part of it is also just Bell’s nature as someone who is curious about how things might look if he did things just a bit differently.

With the Pirates playing out the string though the month of September, that would seemingly be the perfect time for someone of Bell’s nature to go out and try some of the more outlandish ideas he’s come up with this season that might have been just a bit too out there to work in while the Pirates were in contention.

Instead, Bell seems to be searching for something else: consistency.

At the Pirates have seen through much of the 2017 season, young players are often inconsistent at the major-league level. They adjust to a new level and then the league adjusts back, often resulting in large swings in performance, even for players with a year or two of experience.

What Bell wants to do this September is take advantage of the opportunity to look less like a young player and more like a veteran.

“It’s just continuing to show up every day ready to play,” Bell said. “I feel like my last 10, I haven’t really been pleased, but my last 100 are right there, so I’m just trying to keep my head up, get hits when I can. For the most part, I’m just looking to be in a position to put my bat head out in front and do damage”

Since the first of September, he’s hit .225/.295/.325, which has only fueled his desire to get back into the lineup every day and continue to work.

Bell has a bit of a different read on the final few weeks of the season than most of the rest of the clubhouse. Unlike many of the team’s younger players, he has 188 games under his belt, more than enough to feel comfortable at the level.

But he’s still just 25 and has a lot to learn. That’s why he’s appreciating the opportunity he’s been given to continue to play every day and work on his craft at the highest level.

Bell is also three games ahead of Andrew McCutchen for the team lead in games played with 143. If he plays in seven more, he’ll be the first Pirates rookie to break the 150-game plateau since Tony Womack in 1997. He didn’t bring that up, but it’s clear he’d like to finish what he’s started this season.

“Guys talk about finishing strong and not taking anything for granted,” he said. “You look up and see a guy like J-Hay (with a broken hand). We’re one pitch away from finishing the season. I just want to keep my head on straight and play the right way.”

  • Speaking of Bell and consistency, was last night not the 9th time out of the last 10 games he’s been benched when facing a lefty starter? I don’t know of a great way to search this, just looking at box scores.

    I know they want to get Osuna at-bats, and 1B is the only Major League position Osuna can play, but I’d sure like to focus on developing the guy who represents on of the orgs extremely few chances of developing an elite bat moving forward.

  • I think he would benefit from sticking with a fundamentally sound approach and swing. That way he can concentrate on pitch recognition and doing damage to pitches he can handle.

  • August swing worked well!

  • Interesting to see what his ceiling will be…

    • I’d be shocked if it is below .280/30+ HRs/30+ doubles/70+ EBH and 100 RBIs…this is only his first full season, just 25 years old, and his plate patience and ability to not strike out should only improve

  • The 5 million dollar man. Funny but if the Pirates decide to pay an international free agent that kind of money everyone will say it is foolish but was it foolish to give it to Bell? Doesn’t seem so at this point.

  • He will be the new face of the franchise soon. He deserves more credit nationally then he is getting. Bellinger’s awesome season has kept Bell in the back round.

    • Yep. In other years would he have won ROY? Where will he finish in this year’s ROY vote?

      • 2nd

      • I guess Paul DeJong and Manny Margot also aren’t allowed to play in those “other years”? 😉

        • With more games, Austin Barnes, Manny Pina, Ian Happ, and definitely Rhys Hoskins would be ahead of Bell, too. Hoskins, in a mere 31 games, has produced twice as much fWAR as Bell this season.

          • Honestly, this year had the *weakest* crop of rookies in recent memory. We’re talking about Seager, Bryant, deGrom, Fernandez, Harper, Posey. Bellinger isn’t touching those guys, let alone Bell.

            • A .936 OPS and 36 HRs. NRM, I’m guessing that is better than any of position players you have listed did in their rookie year.

              • I think NMR might just be a tad off-base there.

                • I’ll say this about the GM NH. He knows what Prospects to go after on other teams. Bellinger and Robles. He shot high. I thought the Dodgers would have considered Bellinger because they have. Gonzalez at first.

                  • It wouldn’t have taken more than a trained monkey to know that those were two players to go after….