Josh Bell’s choice of pregame attire Thursday got compliments from teammates and media members alike. His shirt was a Dave Parker classic: a form-fitting black T-shirt announcing, “If you hear any noise, it’s just me and the boys boppin'." Bell has been compared to Parker multiple times this year by manager Clint Hurdle, and the rookie sure has been boppin’ like him. He leads all National League rookies in hits (124), doubles (24), triples (6), walks (58) and games played (139). He also set a new National League record for home runs by a National League switch-hitter Monday with his 24th long ball of the season, breaking the 22-year-old mark held by Chipper Jones. Bell is also just three home runs shy of the major league record, shared by Eddie Murray (1977) and Tony Clark (1996). In a normal season, he would be in the mix for Rookie of the Year. But the best-case scenario for him this year is to finish a distant second behind Cody Bellinger. Among the Dodgers’ superstar, Aaron Judge of the Yankees, the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong and Ian Happ of the Cubs, Bell seems to be the forgotten slugger in what could be a legendary group of rookie home run hitters. “We’re making a name for ourselves, and hopefully we continue to do so,” Bell said. But while Judge and Bellinger have cooled off after their torrid starts, Bell has improved in the second half. Being healthy has a lot to do with it. Bell needed a knee procedure in February. While it did not require a trip to the disabled list, it did take a chunk of his spring away and set the pace for a sluggish April. “I felt like I was so ready,” Bell said. “I made all the decisions I needed to in the offseason to prepare myself. ... I wasn’t able to jump forward the way I wanted to at the beginning of the season. But hey, it’s a learning experience.” Bell hit .239 with 16 home runs in the first half, recording a 105 wRC+. He’s only gone deep eight times in the second half, but his .294 average and 126 wRC+ has made him a more integral piece in a Pirates’ lineup that needs a masher. He has always been projected as a power hitter, but his home run totals in the minors were underwhelming, never hitting more than 14 in a season. Those years were just “laying the foundation” for what was to come.
Pirates' rookie Josh Bell keeps mashing, but few seem to notice
Sporting News | Sep 8