For the last couple of seasons playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates and now Washington Nationals, questions about our MLBbro, Josh Bell’s future always dogged him. The narratives of what he wanted in his career and the priorities of the team he was with drew headlines just as much as his power at the plate.
Bell was the star of a Pirates team that seemingly couldn’t get out of the rebuilding stage which brought questions of Josh’s willingness to be a long-term participant. On the other side of the equation, would the team try to avoid the financial responsibility and make a deal for future prospects which the organization is known for?
When the latter happened and Bell moved on to the Nationals, his first season was decidedly up and down to say the least. A serious bout with COVID-19 and a slump through mid-May frustrated our MLBbro with constant strikeouts and double-play grounders.
But his final numbers of 27 homers, 88 RBI with an .823 on-base-slugging percentage reflected a dominant second half of the season. But despite his strong finish, the same questions of Josh Bell possibly being moved persist. A situation that Josh discussed during spring break via the Washington Post…
“I feel like I’ve been traded, I’ve been quote-unquote the face of the franchise, and there are times I’ve been in the big leagues where I feel I’m not going to be here for long, Bell said toward the end of spring training. “I’ve been on the roller coaster ride for a long time now, so I know the most important thing for me to focus on is whatever I’m doing in the moment, the next at bat.
“I know that sounds cliche. But I can only control not having any regrets about what I do, right? If I put in all the work, I’m going to be in a good place. I love the Nationals and D.C. It’s been a lot of fun and really refreshing, and I’ve always thought I’d like to be here. I just have to do my part, and it will work out.”
This quote is saying our MLBbro made some adjustments with plans to start the season on fire because Josh Bell’s numbers are as astounding as his 261-pound muscular frame.
First off, our MLBbro changed the trajectory of his swing plane and launch angle allowing him to hit ground balls to the opposite field in the right center gap as a right-hand hitter. This small adjustment cut down on not only his strikeouts, which he collected over 100 in his first four seasons, but double play opportunities for the opponent.
His strikeout pace at this point is projected at 71 for the season (He currently stands at 17) with a strikeout rate of 10.9 percent. A massive improvement from last season’s 17.8 percent and a 2020 rate of 26.5 percent.
Nats manager Davey Martinez gave a favorable comparison to his former teammate, the “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, who was also an imposing figure who understood the science of hitting in the past via MASNsports.com.
“I played with a guy that it looked like he struck out a lot, but the guy hit .345-.350 every year: Frank Thomas,” Nats manager Davey Martinez said, citing one of the most physically imposing hitters in history. “He put the ball in play.”
The “Big Hurt” explained in 2014 the mechanics that led him to a hall of fame career, the same mechanics Bell is trying to master.
MLB Network’s Mark Derosa breaks down Bell’s early season struggles last year and how his adjustments have allowed Bell to thrive this year.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 14, 2022
This week marks one year when Josh Bell broke out of his horrible hitting slump. Since May 13, Bell slashed .299/.389/.513 with 28 home runs with 99 RBI that has included his monstrous offensive start this year.
With a complete turnaround from last year’s start batting .333 with five homers and 21 RBI along with an impressive 23 runs scored, our MLBbro is working hard not to over-analyze things, but trust the work he has put in.
“If I was struggling, I’d probably be looking for answers, Bell said. “And right now, it’s just trusting the mentality. I know if I have a swing that I like, it’s kind of looking at where the pitch was. But for the most part, my swing itself has stayed the same, even on different contact points. That’s where I want to be.”