Bell hit 86 home runs and drove in 309 runs during his five years with the Pirates, and in the sixth inning of Friday night’s game he proved his comfort in the Pittsburgh batters box by hitting a solo home run to extend Washington’s lead to 3-1.
However that lead would not stand up for long: Pirates MLBbro Anthony Alford answered Bell’s bomb with a homer of his own to cut the deficit to one, then later on in the game, their young phenom Ke’Bryan Hayes sent folks home happy with the first walk off hit of his career.
During the weekend series Bell was 3-for-9 with five walks, two runs and that home run as his Nationals could only salvage one win out of the three games.
Bell finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 and was named as an All-Star for the Pirates in 2019. That year he hit .277 with career highs in home runs, average, OPS, slugging percentage, hits, doubles and runs.
Josh Bell has hit 25 HRs in a season for the 3rd time in his @MLB career.
That year was also Bell’s second time homering 25 or more times for the Pirates, and with him already passing that mark this season, he became just the second player in Major League history to hit 25 home runs for the Nationals/ Montreal Expos and the Pirates joining former first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Bell is one of the few pieces that stayed in Washington after their fire sale during the trade deadline. His year started off slow as he only hit .113 for the month of April and has been fighting to rise the average ever since.
“I feel good as of late,” said Bell to reporters before Friday night’s game. “I had a really rough start that I had to work my way out of. Thank God it wasn’t a 60-game season again. I kind of turned things around.”
He signed a one-year deal with the Nationals this offseason and is now batting .253 with 26 home runs, a .813 OPS and 81 RBI.
He has definitely earned himself a payday after this season whether he gets it in D.C. or with a new franchise.
Bell is now chasing the 30-homer mark during this final month of the season. Showing those numbers during contract negotiations can only help his cause.
This week he and his Nationals will take on the “Bahamian Blur” Jazz Chisholm Jr. and the Miami Marlins.
Now that he’s warmed up, the former home run champ is scheduled to get the start at DH on Sunday.
And the Texas Rangers hope he has his home run bat with him.
After a rough start to the season, Rangers fans also hope the addition of a new face will help this team right the ship.
“He feels healthy, his body feels good, swing [looks good], Rangers manager Chris Woodward told MLB.com. “I expect, or assume that it won’t be perfect at first, obviously, with him not having played every single day up to this point.
“But I do expect him to be [OK]. He said he’s fine. He said timing-wise, he’s in a good place, so it feels good and his body feels good. That’s the most important.”
The debut of Davis should insert much-needed punch from the right side of the plate into a lineup dominated by left handed hitters.
Davis was acquired this offseason in a deal with the Oakland Athletics that saw Elvis Andrus and $13.5 million head to the Bay in exchange for Davis and two prospects.
The trade gives Davis, once considered one of the most dangerous power hitters in baseball, an opportunity to remind everyone how much he can contribute to a ballclub.
After posting three consecutive seasons hitting .247 with 40 plus homers and 100 plus RBI, Davis’ production dropped the past two seasons. He hit just 23 homers in 2019 and then hit just two homers in 85 at bats during the COVID season.
He and the Rangers are hoping a change of scenery is all that was needed.
But more than just his bat, the Rangers look forward to adding another veteran presence to the clubhouse that can mentor younger players, especially budding star Willie Calhoun.
The MLBbro Calhoun has been the Rangers’ most consistent outfielder and is currently slashing an impressive .348/.411/.911.
“(Khris Davis) definitely brings a presence of, you know, he’s been there, he’s done that, he’s been on winning teams,” Woodward told SI.com. “Just his attitude in general. He brings a calmness to the group. He brings a little bit of an edge at times. Just, ‘Hey, let’s go out and beat these guys.’ A lot of people feed off of that. The Oakland clubhouse said the same thing. Everybody kinda rallied around this guy all the time.”
Davis’ return comes at a time when the Rangers’ outfield is stocked with young talent that the rebuilding franchise needs to evaluate. So while he will certainly see playing time, it remains to be seen just how many at-bats he will be given.
With Calhoun, Adolis Garcia and Joey Gallo all playing outfield, Davis could see the bulk of his time at DH against right handed pitching.
Heading into Saturday night, the Rangers ranked 4th in hits, 8th in batting and 10th in home runs.
Despite the production on offense, the Rangers sit a game below .500 entering Sunday’s game.
If Davis is able to regain some of the magic he produced in the Bay, Woodward will have a problem on his hands that every manager would love.
Albert Belle was a great baseball player but one who was labeled as moody, grouchy, and downright nasty to some during his career. The fact that he was an outspoken Black man who didn’t pander to white media didn’t help him either. His career lasted just 12 seasons. Imagine the stats he could’ve compiled had he been able to play a half-decade more in the bigs.
Belle’s career was cut short by a hip injury, and in a blink, he was gone. But not before he produced one of the most offensively potent decades of his generation. No pitcher, no matter how great or well-liked, could intimidate or embarrass Belle.
For the baseball writers who dealt with him, Belle was probably easily forgotten. For many, it was probably good riddance. His legacy since retiring in 2000 has been like a disappearing act. The former Indians slugger hasn’t made one appearance at Progressive Field aka “The Jake” to re-connect with the team or fans in retirement. In 2016, he was a no-show when the Indians inducted Belle into its Hall of Fame.
Belle apparently still holds a grudge with former Indians skipper John Hart, which still lingers to this day. In the 2017 MLB Network documentary “The Dynasty That Almost Was” (about the powerful 1990s Indians), Belle blames Hart for not keeping the nucleus of the team together, and “ruining the Indians dynasty.”
Belle left Cleveland for Chicago, joining the White Sox for a then-record $55 million after the 1996 season. Indians fans instantly turned on Bell, who continued to mash the baseball in the “Windy City.”
Upon retirement in 2000, Belle’s Hall of Fame discussion quickly became complicated and tainted by opinions of him off the field.
“Maybe if Albert had shaken a few more hands and said hello to a few more people he might have had a shot at it.” I doubt he’ll ever get in, although he should be in.”
Belle’s big-league career began with the Indians in 1989, but he played in just 71 games in his first two seasons. By 1991, he was a full-time outfielder. Those 10 full seasons as a starter were some of the best offensive seasons of his era.
In the 1994 and 1995 strike-shortened seasons, it wasn’t outlandish to say he was arguably the most feared hitter in the majors. In 106 games in 1994, he hit .357, while slugging at a ridiculous .714 clip, with 36 home runs and 101 runs batted in. Belle’s numbers that season projected over 162 games; 55 homers and 154 RBI.
The next season in 143 games, he led the league with 50 homers, 52 doubles, 121 runs, 126 RBIs, and slugged .690. Another monster season followed in 1996 with 48 homers, 148 RBIs and a .311 batting average.
The 1998 season is remembered as the Sammy Sosa vs Mark McGuire home run show, as they were chasing and cheating their way to Roger Maris’ single-season HR mark of 61. While the rest of the league was basically ignored as media went all-in on the homer chase, Bell was again off the charts, mashing 48 homers, with a career-high 152 RBIs, while batting a sizzling .328. Belle also led the league in slugging (.655) OPS (1.055), and total bases (399).
With Belle though, came the good and the bad. In 1994 there was the famous corked-bat incident during a game at the White Sox, for which he was suspended.
In 1995, despite being the first player in baseball history to hit 50 homers and 50 doubles in the same season, his frigid relationship with the media turned out to be a real issue as Baseball writers voted Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn AL MVP. That same year, Belle also had a profanity-laced tirade directed at NBC’s Hannah Storm and other media members which made headlines during the 1995 World Series.
Despite the drama, when it came to performing on the field and in the clutch… you know baseball stuff…the stuff that matters… few were better.
As well all know, Albert Belle has a checkered past on and off the field as it pertains to his behavior and decency towards others. His actions will probably never be overlooked, and that’s fine either way.
But when you peel back the layers, Stevie Wonder can see that Belle’s ability and production are easily Hall of Fame worthy.