Pirates’ Josh Bell adds 2 more HRs to his list of tape-measure blasts
When measuring the home-run power of a Pittsburgh Pirates slugger, Bob Prince used to say (stealing from others, no doubt), “He could hit it out of any park, including Yellowstone.”
Oh, if Prince were alive today.
Josh Bell might be limited by Yellowstone National Park’s 3,500 square miles of wilderness over Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and all those trees surely would knock down even his longest blasts. But there doesn’t seem to be a MLB park that can hold one of his homers.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Bell already has matched his homer total for the 2018 season (12) after 39 games. It’s not the frequency but the length and velocity that has been most impressive about Bell’s homers.
He has hit five that traveled between 446 and 474 feet, according to statcast.com. That includes two Tuesday night in Chase Field (446 and 460 feet) during the Pirates’ 6-2 victory against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Velocity off the bat for Bell’s two latest blasts were 110.4 and 110.5 mph.
But it’s not just Bell’s home runs. He is hitting. 329, with a 1.093 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), third in the majors behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich. Bell has hit safely in 14 consecutive games.
Bell’s homers Tuesday night drove Pirates announcer Joe Block to proclaim, “Goodness gracious. He can do whatever he wants. The king of baseball right now is Josh Bell. When we get back to Pittsburgh, I want to hear some MVP chants.”
Which brings up another point. Will Bell’s prodigious blasts that have become video hits across baseball translate to more people at PNC Park when the Pirates open a six-game homestand Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies?
In the Pirates’ last home game May 8 before they left on the current 11-game road trip, Bell hit the dramatic 472-foot shot against the Texas Rangers’ Shelby Miller. That plunked into the Allegheny River on the fly and left the bat at 114.9 mph.
That was 2 feet shorter but 1.6 mph quicker than the 474-foot, 113.3 mph shot April 7 at PNC Park off Anthony DeSclafani of the Cincinnati Reds.
His homer May 4 against the Oakland A’s traveled 451 feet at 111.3 mph. Pirates announcer Greg Brown called it a“topiary tater” because it landed amid the shrubs in center field that spell out Pirates.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .