In The Year of the Home Run, The Year of the Rookie Sluggers, and The Year of Rookie Home-Run Records, Josh Bell’s got something fun brewing.
The Pirates rookie first baseman has been a terrific bright spot for an otherwise moribund Buccos squad. With a week to go in the season, he also has a chance to reach the all-time record for most home runs ever hit by a rookie switch-hitter. The record, currently held by now-MLBPA executive director Tony Clark, and Hall of Fame first baseman Eddie Murray, is 27. Bell has 24.
Three homers in six games would be a tough task, of course. But Bell is already a card-carrying member of the Yonder Alonso Club of Sluggers, the group of hitters with solid plate discipline and line-drive power who’d never shown a ton of over-the-fence pop until now. His 17 homers across Triple-A and a short cup of coffee with the Pirates last year represented a big leap from his previous power threshold, after managing just nine long balls in 2014 and five in 2015 across multiple minor league levels.
With one of the highest groundball rates in the league, you wonder how he’ll be able to sustain his power surge in 2018 and beyond, without making adjustments. But with nearly one of every five flyballs he’s hit this year leaving the yard, maybe Bell has a little more good fortune left to chase down one more record before his year comes to an end.