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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Josh Bell traded to Nationals

Bell was traded from the Pirates to the Nationals in exchange for Eddy Yean and Wil Crowe on Thursday, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports.

If the Nationals are getting the 2019 version, Bell will be a big addition, as he hit a career-high 37 homers while slashing .277/.367/.569. His numbers cratered across the board in 2020’s shortened campaign, however, as he hit just eight homers in 57 games and posted a .226/.305/.364 slash line.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 24, 2020 at 02:08 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: josh bell, nationals, pirates

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   1. The Duke Posted: December 24, 2020 at 02:51 PM (#5995861)
Wow! Nice pickup by Nats
   2. asinwreck Posted: December 24, 2020 at 03:20 PM (#5995869)
Ask not for whom Josh Bell toils, he toils for Washington.
   3. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 24, 2020 at 03:21 PM (#5995870)
Nice pickup by Nats
If 2020 (83 OPS+) was a fluke, and 2019 (142 OPS+) wasn’t. Worth some risk, I suppose.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: December 24, 2020 at 05:12 PM (#5995879)
Both the 142 and the 83 came out of nowhere, he'd been a pretty average 1B offensively prior to that. It may also be a concern that the 142 was entirely a wicked hot first half -- 1024 OPS before the AS break, 780 after (pretty much exactly his pre-2019 average). So since AS 2019, it's 18 HR in 448 PA which is OK, better than he had done before 2019.

But the Nats seem to have given up very little here. Yean is a 19-yo pitcher who MLB.com now slots in at Pitt's #7 prospect; Crowe is a 26-yo who's got AAAA stamped all over him and slotted in at #17 for Pitt. Bell is under control through 2022, made $4.8 M last year but with his 2020 probably isn't in line for much of an arb raise. If Bell's done then he's done but even if he returns to league-average Bell, the Nats are likely to come out ahead here.

I see DRS really dislikes Bell's defense -- and the Pirates might too as he spent 21 games at DH in 2020. That defense is bad enough to kill his WAR -- even in the 142 OPS+, he put up just 2.7 WAR and, outside of that, he's actually been replacement level. So if the defense really is that bad and there's no NL DH, then Wash did not make a good deal here. Statcast puts him at least average though.
   5. Pirate Joe Posted: December 24, 2020 at 07:53 PM (#5995902)
I see DRS really dislikes Bell's defense -- and the Pirates might too as he spent 21 games at DH in 2020. That defense is bad enough to kill his WAR -- even in the 142 OPS+, he put up just 2.7 WAR and, outside of that, he's actually been replacement level. So if the defense really is that bad and there's no NL DH, then Wash did not make a good deal here. Statcast puts him at least average though.



After you watch him play on a regular basis you will see that his defense is, in fact, awful. He basically can't throw the ball at all. He completely changed his throwing motion to sidearm last year in an effort to improve his throws, and it basically didn't help. Frequently on grounders with guys on first and less than two outs he wouldn't even try to throw the ball to second to get the lead runner or start a double play, because he just can't make the throw.
   6. McCoy Posted: December 25, 2020 at 02:44 PM (#5995948)
How can a major league athlete not throw?
   7. BDC Posted: December 25, 2020 at 03:40 PM (#5995960)
And of course it all depends on their other options. Last year the Nationals were platooning Eric Thames and Asdrubal Cabrera at 1B, and Cabrera did much better than Thames. When you're falling back on a 34-year-old middle infielder to shore up first base, it's time to find an average first baseman.
   8. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 25, 2020 at 03:51 PM (#5995962)
How can a major league athlete not throw?


I asked that about Ryan Howard all the time. He threw like a kid who was trying and failing at skipping stones. I never understood why they couldn’t teach him to throw like he was playing darts. At least he could throw to 2B and home if necessary. He couldn’t reach 3B anyway.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: December 25, 2020 at 09:35 PM (#5996000)
I see Josh Bell was a 2nd-round HS draftee in 2011. Pre-2012, without a single pro PA, he was already comfortably in the top 100 prospects on all three lists. (Was he a signability guy, a steal in the 2nd round? Seems unusual a 19-yo 2nd rounder would rank that high.) I assume he got hurt as just 66 PA in 2012 so he dropped off the 2013 lists but waas back in the lower quarter in 2014 but largely stalled bouncing around mainly in the 30s for the next couple of years.

Looking back he was showing good BA but unimpressive power, especially for a 1B. The BA took a big hit coming to the majors -- maybe bigger than expected -- while the power never arrived except in the first half of 2019. The K-rate has been pretty good by today's standards but jumped above 20% in 2020 which is not a good sign.

I started poking around because I assumed the (snarky) answer to McCoy's question was "by hitting 320/400/580 in the minors" but that's not the case here. Apparently he throws and hits like Johnny Damon which is more Enos Cabell than Jimmie Foxx at 1B. Instead it looks a bit like the Pirates and the prospect hounds all thought he was gonna be a pretty special hitter. Possibly oddly, through age 21, he was almost exclusively a RF and still played there a bit at 22. Maybe he hurt his arm along the way? He only played 81 games at 21 so that could be it.

EDIT: That was a comment on Cabell's bat, not his arm. He played plenty of 3B so I assume Enos could throw.
   10. McCoy Posted: December 26, 2020 at 11:20 AM (#5996023)
Kind of guess to show you how otherworldly pros are because there are videos of Bell doing throwing drills at first and for regular guy his throws have zip. If he truly doesnt have a pro arm what do pro first basemen normally throw? 88 mph?
   11. sanny manguillen Posted: December 26, 2020 at 11:54 AM (#5996028)
#9: Bell was a big prospect out of high school, committed to play baseball for U. of Texas. He actually took the step of advising MLB that he wasn't interested in being drafted. The Pirates drafted him in the second round, anyway. They gave him $5 million to sign, and that bonus became one of the examples that led to MLB getting rid of the old soft slotting system. He did have knee surgery early in 2012.

I the biggest reason Bell played right in the low minors was just to see if he'd make enough progress to stick there.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 26, 2020 at 12:26 PM (#5996030)

Looking back he was showing good BA but unimpressive power, especially for a 1B.


I think he's always had good power - he put one into the river at PNC Park - he gets killed by pounding the ball into the ground at over a 50 percent rate. In 2019 he got that down to 44 percent and he had his best power season. Last year it skyrockted back up to 56 percent.
   13. GuyM Posted: December 26, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5996032)
What do folks think this means for likelihood of Zimmerman returning? It appears Bell hits RHP very well, so could be a reasonable platoon.
   14. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: December 26, 2020 at 03:26 PM (#5996046)

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