Josh Bell of the Pittsburgh Pirates

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Dunlap: No Worry About Josh Bell … For Now

Colin Dunlap
July 22, 2019 - 2:18 pm

I’m not concerned about the drop off in production from Pirates slugger Josh Bell … yet. 

But talk to me in a few days. I have decided that if the slump continues through the four-game St. Louis Cardinals series that is set to get underway on Monday night, it might be time to worry. Just a little bit. But, make no mistake, it will be time for some worry. 

I want to wait until after this NL Central matchup, however. I want to give it a few weeks after the All Star Break and see if he can return to his April and May form. 

A couple things, however, are undeniable. A .208 average in June was very much real. And a .218 average through this point in July is also very much happening.

Is that cause for concern? Sure. To a degree. I think what’s up for most debate is how much of a degree. 

Is our view of Bell slanted a bit because he had a momentous couple of months to start the season and we should expect as much from him throughout the balance of 162 games, or is this just a guy going through the natural regression after a really high point? 

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Again, if he doesn’t look any better in this St. Louis series then I think it is time to raise an eyebrow --- if he bounces back and looks even kinda, sorta like himself then I think there is not much to worry about. 

Bell’s is a story that I hope kicks back into one where he has success because my opinion is that, from a team standpoint, the 2019 season is already pretty much done. There are simply too many teams in the standings between where the Pirates currently rest and the Wild Card spots. On top of that, they aren’t going to run down the division-leaders. The Pirates have shown nothing to indicate this season that they can hunt down the big boys.  

So that’s why Bell’s 2019 --- and especially from here on out --- is very, very intriguing. He’s hit just one home run since July 5 and has 27 overall to go with his .289 average and 85 RBIs. There was a point earlier this season we were talking about Bell having a realistic shot (because he did) at Willie Stargell’s 48 home runs in 1971 if not Ralph Kiner’s 54 in 1949 or 51 in 1947. But those Pirates numbers seem to be pretty safe at this point; it doesn’t feel as if Bell will catch a hot streak that will get him there. 

What is most captivating to me is if he’ll pull himself out of this current funk where he’s 8 of his last 49 and the extra base hits haven’t come with anywhere near the regularity they did in the early portion of the season. 

It isn’t the ultimate indicator, but I’m giving him this St. Louis series. I haven’t made up my mind just yet if I should worry about what’s happened to Josh Bell’s bat. If he’s still not hitting come Thursday though …? 

Well, it will be time for some concern. No matter how you look at it. 

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