Pittsburgh Pirates Mid-Season Awards
The switch-hitting Pirate first baseman has been the team’s best rookie in 2017, and this should not surprise anyone. The former top-50 overall prospect is finally an everyday player in the Major Leagues and he is not looking back.
Josh Bell owns a .322 on-base percentage, .332 wOBA, and a 106 wRC+ through the season’s first 81 games. Additionally, his 15 home runs not only lead the team but is a new Pirate team rookie record for home runs before the All-Star Break. Whose record did he break? Only one of the greatest home run hitters in Major League history Ralph Kiner.
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So far this season Bell has been even better than his overall numbers indicate. His 11.4 percent walk rate is third on the team behind just Andrew McCutchen and David Freese, and his average exit velocity of 89.3 miles per hour is 2 miles per hour higher than the Major League average.
So far this season Bell has been victimized by some bad luck. his .245 BABIP is far below the league average of .300. When he BABIP starts to improve to the norm, his overall stats, which are already very good, will improve as well.
Josh Bell is going to make a run at the Major League record for both home runs and extra base hits by a switch-hitting rookie. Meanwhile, the Pirate rookie home run and extra base hit record is going to fall to Bell this season.
The biggest question mark around Josh Bell entering the season was his defense at first base. So far, he has passed that test. His defensive runs saved (DRS) is right at the league average of 0, while his UZR/150 is slightly above average at 0.5.
Being average at first base may not sound like much, but considering how terrible he was at first base last season (-3 DRS, -32.8 UZR/150) average is a huge step in the right direction. Also, anyone who has watched Bell this season can tell you on the eye test alone that he has improved immensely at first base.
Honorable mention: Jose Osuna, Trevor Williams