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#MLBPlayers411 | Josh Bell

   09-06-2017
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He burst onto the major-league scene last season with a grand slam in his second ever at-bat.

This year, first baseman Josh Bell has been a shining bright spot during a difficult season in Pittsburgh.

The switch-hitting, 6-foot-2, 230-pound, 25-year old has been an asset wherever manager Clint Hurdle has slotted him in the lineup, which has been everywhere except lead-off and ninth. As of late, Hurdle has penciled in the rookie at cleanup considering he leads the Pirates in home runs, RBIs and slugging average.

“I don't really think of it as a different spot in the lineup,” Bell told the Tribune-Review last month. “You get into the routine of playing every day, and you get so many at-bats at it, it's just a place where you end up.”

On Monday, Bell bashed his 24th home run of the season to surpass Chipper Jones for the National League rookie record for switch hitters, leaving him just three shy of the MLB record held by Eddie Murray (1977) and Tony Clark (1996) with 23 games remaining.

As he progressed through the minor-league system, Pirates' executives knew they had to find a way to get Bell in the major-league lineup despite a crowded outfield, so Bell worked at first base during winter ball following the 2014 season.  

“It's one of those things where I'm glad to have that in my bag,” Bell told the Altoona Mirror during the 2014 season. “Just to be able to play a second position, it's always going to work out in my favor.

“Hopefully learn what I can and be able to be the best first baseman I can be in the years to come,” he said of the change.

Except for a few interleague starts at designated hitter, Bell has played exclusively at first base this season for the Pirates.

According to Fangraphs.com, Bell is eighth in total defensive runs saved among first basemen, and one of only 11 first basemen with a positive rating.

After debuting last season on July 8, Bell hit .273 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in 45 games.

This season, Bell ranks second among rookies in doubles, is tied for second in runs batted in, tied for third in home runs and is fourth in the league in runs scored.

Earlier this week the switch-hitting Bell passed former Brave standout Chipper Jones' record for most home runs by a switch-hitting NL rookie by slugging his 24th knock. 

In 2017, Bell is hitting .263 with 24 home runs and 82 RBIs. During the second half, Bell has produced at a higher rate, with a .304 average, and is sixth among all NL players with 38 RBIs since the All-Star break.

Bell was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2011 draft out high school in Dallas, Texas. Along with fellow 2011 Pirates draftee Gerrit Cole, the two highlight a bright, young core for the Pirates.

To see more photos of Bell, click here.

To read more #MLBPlayers411, click here

 

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