Josh Bell has put up video game-like numbers through the first three months of the MLB season as a consistent force in the Washington Nationals lineup.
Bell has elevated himself among the upper echelon of first baseman in almost every hitting category. MLB’s only Black starting first baseman is becoming its biggest commodity.
Through 20 games in June, Bell is batting .282 with 16 RBI, seven home runs and a .634 slugging percentage – all while serving as lineup protection behind one of the best young players in the Majors, Juan Soto.
Entering Thursday, Bell leads the Nationals in batting average, RBI, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS while being second in homers, hits and walks. He’s hit 21 home runs since last year’s trade deadline – good for second on the team, only trailing Soto.
Last week he put on a clinic against Phillies pitching. It was not his first time doing so against his divisional rival. He hit four home runs in a three-game span during the five-game series to go along with six RBI.
Now, he has an average of .293 with eight home runs, 23 RBI and 12 runs scored in just 21 games against Philidelphia.
That is just one example Bell’s success since he was traded to the National League East before the 2021 season. The former Pittsburgh Pirate second-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft has had a career resurgence since coming to the nation’s capital.
During the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit just .226 with eight home runs and 22 runs batted in. Fast forward to 2021. Bell raised all those numbers finishing with a .261 average, 27 home runs and 88 RBI.
This season, it looks like Bell is on track to set career highs in multiple hitting categories. It’s taking the rest of the league some time to catch onto Bell’s magnificent growth. He is currently ninth in All-Star voting for National League first baseman, even though he’s top five for most statistics.
It would be the second time he made the All-Star team in his career. The first was in 2019, when he finished with a career-high 37 home runs and 116 RBI.
As we get closer towards baseball’s midsummer classic, the August trade deadline looms not too far away on the horizon.
Keibert Ruiz and Josh Bell perfectly executed the pickoff play to get Rhys Hoskins pic.twitter.com/qot1S3Z1nJ
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 17, 2022
Bell, a 29-year-old switch-hitting first baseman in the final year of his contract, has shown he can be a plus defender over the years. He will be on the wish-list of just about every team in the Majors near the deadline.
He already has a nice payday coming his way this off-season regardless of destination, but it will be great for Black baseball to see Bell get a chance to compete and make an impact during the playoffs. Put his immense talents on display for the entire baseball world.
Bell will get the chance to continue his hot streak when the Nationals go to his home state of Texas for a three-game set against Marcus Semien’s Texas Rangers.