Josh Bell was one of the biggest breakouts early in the 2019 season, but a lengthy slump has caused many to become concerned. Since June 1 he’s hitting .219 with 9 HR and 32 RBI, so it’s not like he’s been a complete black hole, but let’s look at how a few key metrics compare:
Obviously the strikeouts and groundballs going up, with the HR/FB declining, is going to cause a little bit of concern. It’s easy to argue that some of the regression was destined to occur, like the HR/FB and his .368 BABIP. That said, outside of the average where is the significant red flag?
He’s continuing to hit the ball extremely hard and while the drop in his Oppo% does help to support a lower BABIP, a .221 mark is way too far. Throw in a strikeout rate that’s still solid, though not spectacular, and there should be optimism moving forward. His BABIP should find some sort of normalcy, and with it will come a much improved average.
As for the power, is anyone really complaining about the current pace? You can argue that it’s skewed by one big day in July, but even in June he posted a 14.3% HR/FB leading to 4 HR (he already has 5 HR in June). Even if he were to hit “just” 10-12 HR the rest of the way would anyone truly complain?
It’s easy for people to declare him a sell candidate, thanks to the extended slump. That said there is nothing that represents a reason to truly push the panic button. With the way he’s hitting the ball the BABIP is going to rebound, and even if he hits .260-.270 the rest of the way it’ll be more than enough with the other skills. He is going to continue producing in four categories (AVG/HR/RBI/R) hitting in the middle of the Pittsburgh lineup.
If someone in your league has grown frustrated, strike now because you may not get another shot.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball