Pittsburgh Pirates First Half MVP: Josh Bell


Was there really any doubt as to who would be the first half MVP for the Pittsburgh Pirates?

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered the MLB All-Star Break owning a 44-45 record. This puts them 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central division, as well as 2.5 games out of the second NL Wild Card spot. The biggest reason for this? Joshua Evan Bell.

For the first time in his career Bell was NL All-Star this season. He also participated in the home run derby for the first time in his now four-year career. After being eliminated in the first round of the home run derby, despite hitting an impressive 18 home runs, Bell went 1-for-2 in the All-Star Game after starting at designated hitter for the NL.

Bell owns a .302/.376/.648 slash line as the season’s second half prepares to begin. He has hit 27 home runs, his wRC+ is 156, his ISO is .346, and he owns a 2.8 fWAR. Entering the season, he had a career fWAR of 1.4.

The slugging Pirate first baseman is a legitimate NL MVP candidate. Bell’s 30 doubles and 60 extra base hits both lead the NL, as does his 84 RBI. In fact, his 84 RBI lead the Majors with the next closest player being Cody Bellinger with 71. Among batters with at least 300 plate appearances, Bell ranks 3rd in the NL in slugging percentage, 4th in wRC+ and ISO, and 5th in wOBA (.409).

Bell is putting together one of the best seasons in team history. For comparison, when Andrew McCutchen won the NL MVP in 2013 he posted a 156 wRC+ and a .393 wOBA, both of which are inferior to Bell’s numbers this season.

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Bell is putting it all together this season and showing why he was given one of the largest signing bonuses in MLB Draft history. With his play, Bell has helped put the Pirates in a position to compete for a postseason berth. If he repeats his first half in the second half, he will have a legitimate shot at winning NL MVP.