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July 16, 2017

If you’re a rookie this season not named Aaron Judge or Cody Bellinger, it’s easy to get overlooked. In a season not dominated by first-year aliens, though, Josh Bell would make a pretty damn strong Rookie of the Year candidate.

Blessed with good contact skills and an even better batting eye, Bell looked like an intriguing source of batting average and OBP when he seized the starting first-base job this season. A funny thing’s happened since then. Bell’s striking out more and walking less than he has for most of his professional career. The good news is that he’s traded in some of that impeccable batting eye for a huge power spike. His 17 homers this season trail only Judge, Bellinger and the White Sox' Matt Davidson.

If Bell can consolidate those power gains with a return to the plate discipline that saw him walk more often than he struck out during his 45-game cameo in 2016, the Pirates could have another young hitting star on their hands. And at a time in which we’re on pace to shatter MLB’s single-season home-run record, Bell could be the third piece of a historic rookie trio.  

18. Los Angeles Angels (46–49, minus-25, LT: 13)

17. Kansas City Royals (45–45, minus-27, LT: 17)

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