Josh Bell Shows Why The National League Needs The Designated Hitter


Pittsburgh Pirates first base prospect Josh Bell has done nothing but throughout his Minor League career, however he has yet to crack the Majors Leagues on a full time basis. However, if the National League had the designated hitter it would be a different story.

Josh Bell is one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball, and for good reason. This season at Triple-A Indianapolis Bell has a slash line of .324/.407/.535/.942, to go along with a .416 wOBA, 170 wRC+, .212 ISO, and a career high 12 home runs. The Pirates promoted Josh Bell to the Majors for their series against the Chicago Cubs last weekend, and Bell went 2-for-2 with a grand slam and a walk in three pinch hit appearances.

However, Josh Bell will be demoted back to Triple-A Indianapolis soon. If not this weekend in Washington D.C. to make room for Gerrit Cole on the active roster, it will come shortly thereafter when Jameson Taillon returns from the disabled list. There is no reason Josh Bell should be demoted though, as he is being hurt by the fact the National League does not feature the perfect position for him: the designated hitter.

This leads us to one of the most heated debates among baseball fans is whether or not the National League should adopt the designated hitter. In my opinion it is a no brainer move, the National League absolutely should have the designated hitter. I believe this for a lot of reasons.

First off, watching pitchers hit is boring. Pitchers are paid to pitch, not hit, therefore they should not be expected to hit. You do not expect position players to pitch, do you? I know I certainly do not.

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Secondly, the lack of a designated hitter can often times cost a starting pitcher and their team. Let’s say Gerrit Cole and Jake Arrieta are locked in a 0-0 pitcher’s duel. Cole comes to the plate in the top of the seventh inning with two men on and two outs, Clint Hurdle must decide to pinch hit for Cole to try and take the lead or leave him in to let him continue his shutout.

No manager should ever be put in this position. Let’s say Cole is pinch hit for, and the pinch hitter flies out. Then, the Pirate bullpen proceeds to blow the game. All this does is hurt both Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Anyway, all of this brings us to Josh Bell. There are two main things keeping Josh Bell at Triple-A right now, his defensive struggles and the success of John Jaso. While Josh Bell is no Pedro Alvarez at first base, he has a ways to go defensively. This is part of the reason why Josh Bell would be the perfect designated hitter.

The other reason Josh Bell has yet to latch on full time in the Major Leagues is John Jaso. The Pittsburgh Pirates signed John Jaso to do one thing and one thing only, get on base against right-handed pitching. So far this season, Jaso has done just that.

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Against right-handed pitching this season John Jaso has a .287/.361/.410/.771 slash line, a .338 wOBA, and a 113 wRC+. John Jaso also has a .321 batting average and a .391 on-base percentage when leading off an inning this year. And since he is the Pirates’ lead off hitter against right-handed pitching, this is obviously pretty important.

The offense of the Pittsburgh Pirates is already one capable of making up the game and a half they need to make up in order to achieve their fourth consecutive postseason berth. It is also a lineup capable of powering the deep on a deep playoff run. However, this offense would be even better if the National League had the designated hitter giving the Pirates Josh Bell in their everyday lineup.

The Pittsburgh Pirates already have one of the most potent offenses in the National League, and it would be even more deadly if they had the designated hitter and Josh Bell. There is no reason the National League should not have the designated hitter, and not having it is holding back and hurting players like Josh Bell. Hopefully when the new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated this offseason, the National League will join the 21st Century and add the designated hitter.