Josh Bell
Josh Bell
27-Year-Old First Baseman1B
Pittsburgh Pirates
2019 Fantasy Outlook
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. Read Past Outlooks
RANKSFrom Preseason
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$Signed a one-year contract with the Pirates in March of 2019.
In search of hits
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 20, 2019
Bell went 1-for-4 against Washington on Monday.
He had been hitless in his last 12 at-bats, going four games without a hit for the first time in 2019. Bell batted .474 with four homers and nine RBI in a five-game stretch last week but has fallen off once again. The first baseman is 1-for-8 in his career against Tuesday's starter Stephen Strasburg. Bell still leads the National League with 36 doubles and is tied for first in RBI (98), along with Eduardo Escobar and Freddie Freeman.
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Batting Stats
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Batting Order Slot Breakdown
vs Right-Handed Pitchers
vs RHP
vs Left-Handed Pitchers
vs LHP
Left/Right Batting Splits
Since 2017
Since 2017vs Left .744 438 48 17 58 1 .240 .315 .429
Since 2017vs Right .859 1297 185 52 193 3 .271 .362 .497
2019vs Left .740 139 16 7 20 0 .223 .302 .438
2019vs Right .999 393 68 24 79 0 .294 .382 .618
2018vs Left .734 158 15 2 17 1 .254 .335 .399
2018vs Right .781 425 59 10 45 1 .264 .365 .416
2017vs Left .758 141 17 8 21 0 .242 .305 .453
2017vs Right .813 479 58 18 69 2 .259 .342 .470
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Home/Away Batting Splits
Since 2017
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
OPS on Road
Since 2017Home .793 835 104 31 124 0 .253 .337 .456
Since 2017Away .864 900 129 38 127 4 .273 .362 .502
2019Home .927 259 40 15 44 0 .259 .359 .568
2019Away .935 273 44 16 55 0 .290 .363 .573
2018Home .705 274 30 5 33 0 .254 .318 .387
2018Away .826 309 44 7 29 2 .269 .392 .435
2017Home .762 302 34 11 47 0 .246 .334 .428
2017Away .835 318 41 15 43 2 .263 .333 .502
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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 this season's data (min 200 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.
    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 Rate
K Rate
Exit Velocity
92.7 mph
Hard Hit Rate
Advanced Batting Stats
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Additional Stats
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Defensive Stats
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
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
Crushes another homer
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 14, 2019
Bell went 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk and three RBI in a win against the Angels on Tuesday.
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Goes deep again Monday
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 13, 2019
Bell went 2-for-5 with his 30th homer of the season in a 10-2 win over the Angels on Monday.
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Goes deep twice
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 12, 2019
Bell went 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in an 11-9 loss against the Cardinals on Sunday.
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Doubles pleasure Friday
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 10, 2019
Bell went 2-for-3 with a walk, two doubles and two runs in Friday's 6-2 loss to St. Louis.
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Returns to customary spot Friday
1BPittsburgh Pirates
August 9, 2019
Bell will start at first base and bat fourth against the Cardinals on Friday.
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