Josh Bell
Josh Bell
28-Year-Old First Baseman1B
Washington Nationals
2021 Fantasy Outlook
Bell was quite an interesting option last offseason coming off a campaign in which he posted career highs in average (.277), homers (37) and RBI (116). Even a regression back to the .260/.348/.436 hitter he was over his first three seasons would have made him useful enough, but he wound up falling far short of even that modest level, hitting a very poor .226/.305/.364. He seemingly can't blame bad luck, as his .229 xBA was easily his career low. His K% spiked from 19.2 to 26.5, while his BB% fell from 12.1 to 9.9. There's really no positive spin to put on his overall awful season, but an offseason deal that freed him from a tough home park in Pittsburgh and the weak Pirates lineup offers a path to a rebound as the Nationals' new starting first baseman, and Bell's strong 2019 season means he's demonstrated a higher performance level than most hitters available in his range. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
#144
ADP
$Signed a one-year, $6.35 million contract with the Nationals in January of 2021.
Back on bench
1BWashington Nationals
May 18, 2021
Bell will sit Tuesday against the Cubs.
ANALYSIS
Bell finds himself benched for the second time in three games. It's hard to argue he deserves more playing time, as he's hitting .172/.239/.343 on the season, though he does have six hits in his last four games. Ryan Zimmerman starts at first base in his absence.
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Batting Stats
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2021
2020
2019
2018
2017
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2020 MLB Game Log
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2019 MLB Game Log
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2018 MLB Game Log
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
6
11
3
3
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
1
1
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2019
 
 
+29%
OPS vs RHP
2021
 
 
+56%
OPS vs RHP
2020
 
 
+21%
OPS vs RHP
2019
 
 
+32%
OPS vs RHP
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2019vs Left .685 253 28 11 35 0 .202 .300 .385
Since 2019vs Right .887 687 109 38 118 0 .272 .352 .535
2021vs Left .402 27 4 0 4 0 .095 .259 .143
2021vs Right .629 82 17 4 11 0 .192 .232 .397
2020vs Left .589 60 6 2 6 0 .184 .283 .306
2020vs Right .711 158 16 6 16 0 .246 .316 .394
2019vs Left .761 166 18 9 25 0 .224 .313 .448
2019vs Right 1.002 447 76 28 91 0 .297 .387 .615
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2019
 
 
+13%
OPS on Road
2021
 
 
+2%
OPS on Road
2020
 
 
+59%
OPS on Road
2019
 
 
+4%
OPS on Road
OPS PA R HR RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Since 2019Home .781 449 59 20 68 0 .227 .323 .458
Since 2019Away .881 475 75 28 82 0 .277 .352 .530
2021Home .577 51 9 2 9 0 .170 .216 .362
2021Away .586 58 12 2 6 0 .173 .259 .327
2020Home .518 107 6 1 7 0 .183 .271 .247
2020Away .825 95 13 6 12 0 .274 .337 .488
2019Home .918 291 44 17 52 0 .254 .361 .557
2019Away .952 322 50 20 64 0 .297 .373 .580
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Stat Review
How does Josh Bell compare to other hitters?
This section compares his stats with all batting seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 400 plate appearances)*. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.

* Exit Velocity and Barrels/PA % are benchmarked against 2019 data (min 400 PA) and Hard Hit Rate is benchmarked against last season's data (min 400 PA). See here for more exit velocity/barrels stats plus an explanation of current limitations with that data set.
  • BB/K
    Walk to strikeout ratio
  • BB Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a walk.
  • K Rate
    The percentage of plate appearances resulting in a strikeout.
  • BABIP
    Batting average on balls in play. Measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits.
  • ISO
    Isolated Power. Slugging percentage minus batting average. A computation used to measure a batter's raw power.
  • AVG
    Batting average. Hits divided by at bats.
  • OBP
    On Base Percentage. A measure of how often a batters reaches base. Roughly equal to number of times on base divided by plate appearances.
  • SLG
    Slugging Percentage. A measure of the batting productivity of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats.
  • OPS
    On base plus slugging. THe sum of a batter's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
  • wOBA
    Weighted on-base average. Measures a player's overall offensive contributions per plate appearance. wOBA combines all the different aspects of hitting into one metric, weighting each of them in proportion to their actual run value.
  • Exit Velocity
    The speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.
  • Hard Hit Rate
    A measure of contact quality from Sports Info Solutions. This stat explains what percentage of batted balls were hit hard vs. medium or soft.
  • Barrels/PA
    The percentage of plate appearances where a batter had a batted ball classified as a Barrel. A Barrel is a batted ball with similar exit velocity and launch angle to past ones that led to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage.
BB/K
0.27
 
BB Rate
7.3%
 
K Rate
27.5%
 
BABIP
.197
 
ISO
.172
 
AVG
.172
 
OBP
.239
 
SLG
.343
 
OPS
.582
 
wOBA
.258
 
Exit Velocity
85.4 mph
 
Hard Hit Rate
45.7%
 
Barrels/PA
5.2%
 
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
Games By Position
Defensive Stats
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Batted Ball Stats
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Recent RotoWire Articles Featuring Josh Bell
FanDuel MLB: Saturday Targets
3 days ago
Chris Bennett examines Saturday's slate of games and is taking a shot at Trevor Story against Cincinnati pitcher Tyler Mahle.
MLB Barometer: Risers and Fallers
8 days ago
Erik Halterman discusses this week's risers and fallers, including Baltimore riser John Means with his 1.37 ERA and no-hitter against the Mariners.
DraftKings MLB: Sunday Breakdown
9 days ago
Dan Marcus says the Yankees-Nationals matchup should be high-scoring and selects a few bats from each side.
The Z Files: Early Season Power Targets
10 days ago
Todd Zola takes a look at early-season data on average flyball exit velocity and distance and thinks there is a power surge in C.J. Cron's future.
MLB Betting: Sundays Best Bets
16 days ago
Michael Rathburn shares his best bets for Sunday, including a low-scoring game between the Marlins and Nationals.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
Following a year in which Bell hit just 12 homers, the 27-year-old first baseman broke out for 37 long balls, 116 RBI and 94 runs scored over 143 contests. He went ice cold after the All-Star break, batting .188 without a homer in his first 24 games of the second half, and missed the final couple weeks of the season with a groin injury. However, he still finished with a 135 wRC+ and 2.5 fWAR. Bell's power surge in 2019 was fueled by a more aggressive approach at the plate and helped by an inflated 23.9% HR/FB (9.2% in 2018). While he had a sizable platoon split, Bell was not far below league average against lefties, and his poor defense is not going to cost him playing time in Pittsburgh. Despite the late slide, he is still in the conversation to go top 10 among first basemen in 2020 drafts, though he'll need to put together another strong campaign to prove 2019 was not a fluke.
There were some positives in Bell’s 2018 season. His batting average improved by six points, his on-base percentage increased by 23 points and he improved his already-stellar walk and strikeout rates. However, these upgrades were heavily offset by a downturn in power. Bell hit just 12 homers compared to 26 the year prior and his slugging percentage dropped 55 points as a result. Some of this regression was expected, as his home-run-to-flyball rate came back down to a more reasonable 9.2% from his 19.1% mark in 2017. His struggles against left-handed pitching also hurt him, as he mustered just a .734 OPS with two home runs against them last season. Bell’s standing as the Pirates’ starting first baseman is safe, but he needs to improve his power output to avoid getting lost in the wash at the first-base position.
Long considered a hit over power first baseman, Bell uprooted that narrative last season with 26 long balls and just a .255 average. He finished with a .211 ISO, which ranked 52nd among qualified hitters, with 11 of his home runs coming at PNC in a bottom-eight park for homers. However, his flyball rate was just over 30 percent while his HR/FB was inflated at 19.1 percent; it's hard to bet on him repeating that level of power production next season. Further, while Bell made consistent contact, walked at an above-average rate and his BABIP was depressed, his xBA was identical to his actual batting average, so it's not a given that he gets a lot back in that department in 2018. There may very well be another level or two to his game, but it's unwise to assume he puts it all together and vaults into top-75 territory right away this season. It's better to instead keep expectations modest -- another $10-plus season in 15-team leagues -- with anything beyond that being a bonus.
Bell burst onto the scene in 2016, stroking a memorable grand slam off Chicago's Jake Arrieta in his first series just prior to the All-Star break. GM Neal Huntington then recalled Bell for good in August. Bell batted .273/.368/.406 in 152 plate appearances, though he hit just .167 in his final 47 at-bats. The 24-year-old played at first base but later saw time in right field. His defense is below average but his bat excites fantasy owners. The switch-hitter hit .324 with 13 homers and 41:55 BB:K in 359 Triple-A plate appearances, contending for the Triple Crown. He also showed excellent command of the strike zone in Pittsburgh, walking more times (21) than he struck out (19). Bell should start out on the strong side of a platoon with David Freese at first base, but given his pedigree and long-term upside as a hitter, he should eventually earn everyday at-bats and could have a breakout season.
Bell is somewhat of an enigma. The 6-foot-2, 233-pounder produced a sterling .317/.393/.446 line split between Double-A and Triple-A while exhibiting tremendous plate discipline (65:65 K:BB). He hit only seven homers in 572 plate appearances, however, and the Pirates need power from the first base position. The organization is hopeful the 23-year-old matures into 20-plus home run hitter annually, as his raw power grades out as above average, though potential .300 hitters have plenty of value regardless of home run-hitting ability. A former outfielder, Bell will likely begin 2016 at Triple-A Indianapolis, but he could be called up in late-April, once the Pirates have exacted an extra year of control over the promising prospect. The likes of John Jaso, Mike Morse and Jason Rogers do not exactly represent daunting roadblocks.
Bell compiled an overall line of .325/.375/.459 and was named Pittsburgh's top minor league hitter of the year in 2014. The organization moved Bell to first base from the outfield for the Arizona Fall League, with fairly disappointing results. The Pirates have sought help at first and the 22-year-old switch-hitter projects as a possible long-term solution. Unfortunately, after a rough AFL both in the field (five errors) and at the plate (zero homers), the organization must wonder whether the 6-foot-2, 235 pounder will ever hit for power. Bell went deep just nine times in 465 plate appearances split between High-A (nine homers in 363 PA) and Double-A (zero homers in 102 PA). He's already dealt with knee injuries on multiple occasions, but if he finds a power stroke, the Bucs will most likely fast track him to the majors.
Bell may have taken a back seat to some of Pittsburgh's other prospects for the last year or so, but make no mistake - his power potential is for real. After being limited to 15 games due to a knee injury in 2012, the switch-hitting corner outfielder began to find his way last summer. Bell posted a .279/.353/.453 line in 459 at-bats for Low-A West Virginia, to which he added 37 doubles, 13 homers, and 76 RBI. Pittsburgh might not promote the second-round draft pick swiftly, if only because the 21-year-old missed nearly all of 2012, but his offensive potential has the organization excited about his future. Owners in dynasty leagues should consider Bell, while most should track his progress. He's likely Pittsburgh's second-best offensive prospect behind Gregory Polanco.
Bell entered 2012 as the team's brightest and best paid ($5 million bonus) offensive prospect in the low minors. He played in only 15 Low-A games, however, before suffering a knee injury that cost him his season -- not exactly the best way to start a pro career. Inflammation in his left knee lingered throughout the summer to the point that he was unable to participate in the fall Instructional League. Hopefully he'll find a way to get back on the field for 2013 because he's one of the organization's best power prospects. The switch-hitter, who remains years away from the majors, makes for a strong pickup in dynasty leagues assuming that he makes it back from his knee issues.
Bell entered the 2011 draft as a player with immense power who seemed bent on foregoing the draft to enter college. His mother is a university professor, but the lure of first-round money at pick No. 61 proved to be too much for the switch-hitter to pass up. Bell immediately becomes the best power prospect in the Pirates system. He's thought to be average at best defensively, but has a chance to move up quickly an offensively-challenged organizational ladder. His second-round, $5 million contract would've never happened under the new CBA, but Bell gives the small market Bucs a chance to cash in on a player who was universally ranked as a first-round talent.
More Fantasy News
On bench Sunday
1BWashington Nationals
May 16, 2021
Bell is not in the lineup Sunday against the Diamondbacks, Matt Weyrich of NBC Sports Washington reports.
ANALYSIS
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Knocks in three
1BWashington Nationals
May 14, 2021
Bell went 2-for-5 with a double, a walk, two runs and three RBI in a 17-2 win over Arizona on Friday.
ANALYSIS
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Slugs fourth homer
1BWashington Nationals
May 13, 2021
Bell went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run Thursday against the Phillies.
ANALYSIS
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Not starting Wednesday
1BWashington Nationals
May 12, 2021
Bell is out of Wednesday's lineup against the Phillies, Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com reports.
ANALYSIS
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Homers against Yankees
1BWashington Nationals
May 7, 2021
Bell went 1-for-5 with a solo home run and a strikeout in Friday's 11-4 win over the Yankees.
ANALYSIS
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