Pittsburgh Pirates: Is Josh Bell the long-awaited solution at first base?

The Pittsburgh Pirates have been struggling for years to land a long-term solution at first base. After a great season, is Josh Bell finally the answer?

Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates and their dedicated fanbase, the team didn’t have an answer for their tough slate of NL Central opponents again in 2017. At the same time, it’s not like they competed very well against the other ballclubs on their schedule, finishing the season with a 75-87 record.

However, there was one bright spot for the Bucs this year, as first-baseman Josh Bell had one heck of a rookie campaign.

Not only did he live up to expectations, but he has people around the club talking about him being their first baseman of the future. Looking at the other great first-baseman in the NL Central, that’s a great honor to be granted with.

Take a look at this blurb from Adam Berry of Pittsburgh’s official team website:

“Josh Bell was a bright spot during a mostly disappointing year. He had a slash line of .255/.334/.466 with 26 home runs and 90 RBIs and silenced three preseason criticisms. After left knee surgery in February, would he hold up physically during his first full Major League season? Could the Pirates trust him on defense? Would he hit for power?

Yes, yes and yes.

Bell led the team with 159 games played. He developed into a reliable defender at first base and produced six Defensive Runs Saved. Offensively, he finished first on the team in RBIs and second in homers, set the National League record for most home runs by a switch-hitting rookie and tied Jason Bay‘s club record for most long balls by a rookie.”

If you’ve been a fan of the Pirates for the last decade, then you know just how much the first base job has been seen as a revolving door. This organization has tried all kinds of projects, but none of them have had the impact Bell just had over the course of one season.

Sure – it’s not smart to get over-excited about one solid year, but Bell is showing all signs of becoming one of the better first basemen in the NL Central. Again, when you consider the other players like Joey Votto and Anthony Rizzo, that’s truly saying something.

Therefore, is Bell the long-awaited answer for the Pirates? I say yes, but with caution. This is a brutally tough game to succeed at over a long period of time. However, based on his performance in 2017, he’s a smart bet moving forward.