Pittsburgh Pirates Monday Minute: Josh Bell and John Jaso

Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Editorial: This week’s Monday Minute we will take a look at Josh Bell and John Jaso and their defensive metrics. Monday Minute is a short, but concise article on popular issues surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yesterday the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Arizona Diamondbacks by a score of 5-4.  Two of the runs batted in came from Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. With the Pirates tied at two with Arizona, Bell came to the plate with Gregory Polanco on base, the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman promptly unloaded on a pitch sending it over the right center wall. This was Bell’s second home run from the right side in the past few days, and it gave the Bucs the lead.

However, Bell was then removed from the game in the 7th inning.  Part of the reason was to help reshuffle the lineup as the Pittsburgh Pirates worked in their relievers.  With that being said, this is not the first time it has happened.  Many fans are starting to notice that arguably the team’s best hitter is continuing to get pulled late in games.  Many are speculating it is because the team does not trust Bell’s glove enough to keep him in late, close games.  Nonetheless, the Pittsburgh Pirates blew the lead last night in the 8th and could have used his bat in the lineup to reclaim it.

Now, of course, Jose Osuna did hit the game winning home run, but that is beside the point.  The team has continued to pull their best hitter more than they have left him in for all nine innings. Meanwhile, his defense has vastly improved since last season.  His UZR/150 is at +1.8, with 0 being league average, and he has only been charged with 1 error so far this season.  Furthermore, he ranks as a +2 in the defensive runs saved category.  Last year, he had a UZR/150 of -32.8 and was a -3 for defensive runs saved.  Bell has really worked hard and became an actual decent fielder. Also, he likely will continue to improve if given the chance.

Next: Stat Update for Prospects

Why is it that the Pittsburgh Pirates and Clint Hurdle are nervous about playing Josh Bell at first in close games, but they are fine sticking Jaso in right?  Jaso has a UZR/150 of -41.5, which is horrendous.  For comparison, people made a big deal about McCutchen’s lack of range last season, but he was at a -23.2 UZR/150, well above Jaso’s.  On the flip side, Starling Marte posted a +11.6 in 2016.  Essentially, John Jaso has no business playing right field.  Yet, for some reason, the Pittsburgh Pirates management feels more comfortable by pulling Bell.  This needs to be put to an end, and while we are ending things, stop with Jaso in right.

*All stats are courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference