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Washington Nationals’ Josh Bell ended up providing what the Nats expected…

The beginning of Josh Bell’s first season in D.C., following the Christmas Eve 2020 commerce with Pittsburgh that introduced him over from the Pirates, didn’t go nicely. Bell, who turned 29 in August, went on the COVID-IL earlier than Opening Day, and struggled as soon as he returned to the lineup, placing up a .156/.219/.333 line with 5 doubles, 4 house runs, seven walks, and 30 Ks in his first 26 video games and 105 plate appearances with Washington.

Then the 6’4’’, 255-pound, switch-hitting slugger turned issues round although, and from the center of Might by the finish of the yr, the six-year veteran posted a .286/.376/.510 line, 19 doubles, 23 house runs, 58 walks, and 71 Ks in 118 video games and 463 PAs.

“I mentioned this earlier than,” Nationals’ supervisor Davey Martinez instructed reporters as the 2021 season wound down,

“From the place he began to the place he’s now, it’s been unbelievable. I imply, for me, he’s been certainly one of the finest constant gamers in the league, and his numbers present that proper now.

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“His OPS is over .800, which is wonderful from the place he began.”

Bell completed the yr with an .823 OPS, the second-highest of his profession.

MLB: SEP 29 Nationals at Rockies

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Requested about turning issues round and what the distinction was as soon as he acquired going, Bell mentioned it was all about, “staying behind balls.”

“I’m not leaping ahead, making early contact. So simply having the ability to get balls in the air to heart subject, and left-center, that’s positively signal.”

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He went by a tough stretch in early-to-mid August as nicely, however got here out of that too, and over the final 44 video games and 194 PAs, Bell put up a .306/.433/.516 line.

“I feel I used to be simply leaping ahead just a bit bit, making an attempt to make an excessive amount of occur,” Bell mentioned after getting by that tough patch.

“Simply making an attempt to get again to feeling comfy with if I’m going to foul a ball off deep, that’s okay, dwell to see one other pitch.

“But when I leap on the market and make unhealthy contact out in entrance, that’s simply an out each time.”

Bell’s supervisor had his personal ideas.

“I feel, for me actually, it’s simply him preparing on time and seeing the ball slightly sooner than he was, versus earlier in the season,” Martinez mentioned at the time.

“He’s one other man, when he will get the ball in the zone, he hits the ball actually, actually arduous, as everyone knows, so and that was the key focus. Him and Juan [Soto], and lots of the different guys, you recognize, we preached lots on simply placing the ball in play and making an attempt to chop down on strikeouts, and he took it to coronary heart, and he will get up there, particularly with two strikes, he’s battling to get a ball in the zone, he’s fouling off good pitches, when he does get that ball in the zone, he’s hitting it arduous.”

The best way Bell turned issues round impressed Martinez.

“It’s not straightforward,” Martinez mentioned. “The numbers are there. You strive to not deal with them, and I attempted to have interaction with him, particularly early, about ‘Don’t fear about the place you’re at now, let’s fear about the place you end, and I imagine that you simply’re going to complete very robust.

“And simply preserve pushing day by day. Each at-bat is totally different, day by day, so simply preserve pushing day by day, work good at bats, and by the finish of the yr, you’ll have your .260/.270 [AVG], 30 [HRs], and 80 or 90 RBIs, perhaps extra, and don’t fear about it.’

“And he truly began enjoying and not likely specializing in the numbers, you recognize, however it’s at all times there. I instructed him, I mentioned, ‘Hey, when you might take away the month of April once I performed, I might have been one heck of a participant.’ As a result of I’m not going to lie, I stunk in April, and lot of occasions I talked to the supervisor, I mentioned, ‘Don’t play me in April, wait until Might, and I’m going to be actually, actually good.’ They usually’d snort and say, ‘No, you bought to play in April.’

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds

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“However I instructed him, I mentioned, ‘Don’t look again, preserve pushing ahead.’ And he’s been nice.”

Bell ended up being precisely what GM Mike Rizzo anticipated when he acquired him from the Pirates.

“The numbers had been what I anticipated,” Rizzo mentioned over the ultimate weekend of the season.

“Not what you guys anticipated, clearly, and he’s been terrific for us all season, he had a terrific Spring Coaching, then acquired sidetracked with COVID and I feel he —that he turned the naysayers early in the season into believers, and as a man that at 28, 29 years previous, and a profession .800 OPS, and that was the participant we traded for and that’s the participant we acquired. Past that his influence in the clubhouse is irreplaceable. He’s been terrific in the clubhouse, and he’s been a mentor for the younger gamers, and he’s a shining instance of what a giant leaguer ought to be.”

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