By Jared Lankes
Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects reported that Josh Bell has slimmed down from about 250 LBS to about 220-230 and intends to stay around there. One of the guys that influenced the decision was, surprisingly or not surprisingly, Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto. This got me thinking about a comparison of Josh Bell to Joey Votto based on skills and tools. Today, I am going to dive in and look at this interesting comparison.
Firstly, let’s look at Joey Votto. The Reds’ first baseman has power but, besides one outlier year when he hit 37 homers, he normally sits around 22-29 homers per year, but we can use 25-30 as a benchmark estimate. It’s not terrible at all, but he’s no thumper, especially considering he’s a lefty batter that plays 81 games a year in Great American Ball Park. But that isn’t what makes Votto so special. What makes him special is his plate discipline and eye for the strike zone. Rarely does Votto chase terrible pitches, and he is capable of hitting the ball to all parts of the field. He knows the strike zone better than many umpires do. This has been seen by not only watching him play, but the fact that his walk rate is super high every year and has consistently put up on-base percentage numbers in the upper .300s to lower .400s, a very impressive number. If he doesn’t see the pitches he wants, he will gladly take 1st base. It’s an integral part of his game, and he is great at it.
Now, let’s take Bell. In the minor leagues, Bell showed off-again, on-again power, but many project he will develop some sort of power to the ring of 15-20 homers a year at the least, which seems fair. However, one thing Bell has shown in the minors and in his little time in the majors is the plate discipline and an eye for the strike zone, the very same traits that Votto excels at. Josh Bell has shown off a good walk rate and a high on-base percentage as well, and just like Votto, can spray the ball to all parts of the field as well.
However, the defensive differences are certainly there. Votto is an excellent defender while Bell hasn’t shown that. However, Bell hasn’t been at the first base position long in comparison as he was initially an outfielder. So it’s hard to get a read on how that part of their games may stack up just yet. Bell will still develop as a defender at that position.
Will Josh Bell be like Joey Votto? I would guess no because Votto is special and one of a kind. However, the similarity of skills and tools are undoubtedly there.