Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Player Profile: David Bell 

I hate to beat a dead horse, but David Bell’s foibles and their effect on the Phillies fortunes are always fertile soil for me to till.

Bell signed with the Phillies in the winter of ’02 – ’03, inking a four-year, $17 million deal to play third base for the team, replacing Future Hall of Famer Scott Rolen as the team’s 3B. Bell was one of the Phillies three big winter acqusitions, along with Jim Thome and Kevin Millwood, as the team geared up for Citizens and their expectation of mounting a challenge to the Braves decade-long dominance of the NL East. Replace Rolen Bell hasn't done at the plate: while Rolen mounted an MVP campaign in 2004 with 120 RBIs, 34 HR's and a .334 GPA, Bell had a career year at the plate but fell well short of Rolen's stats: 77 RBI, 18 Home Runs, .278 GPA. (I note that Bell is actually pretty fair compared to Gold Glover Rolen in the field, but I'll get to that.)

Here is what Bell has done with the Phillies these last 2 & 1/2 years:

2003: .204 / .088 / .296
2004: .278 / .167 / .363
2005: .231 / .113 / .308
Career: .242 / .142 / .318

Bell was very much sought after during the 2002-2003 offseason, but it is important to remember that it was a bad year for free agents and the Phillies needed a new 3B. The oft-injured Bell (he's played more than 150+ games in a season just twice in his ten years) fit the bill, despite he fact that his career numbers should have caused the Phillies to think twice: his career high in home runs is 21 and his career-high OPS is under .800. Bell is a comparably average hitter: doesn't really hit for average or for power with any significance. He doesn't add anything to the Phillies lineup.

As a point of comparison, look at the difference between Bell’s GPA and the team GPA …

Bell / Team / Bell “Advantage”
2003: .204 / .259 / -.055
2004: .278 / .266 / .012
2005: .231 / .261 / -.030

And for team Slugging Percentage …

Bell / Team / Bell “Advantage”
2003: .283 / .419 / -.136
2004: .458 / .443 / .015
2005: .369 / .416 / -.050

Check out Bell's two seasons prior to joining the team:

Slugging Percentage:
Bell / Team / Bell “Advantage”
2002 (Giants): .442 / .429 / -.013
2001 (Mariners): .445 / .415 / -.030

So the bottom-line is that the Phillies over-paid for Bell's bat. While Bell has always played for some good teams (e.g., the '02 Giants lost the World Series in seven games, the '01 Mariners won 116 games), he's pretty much always been the weak link in the chain.

Another problem with Bell is that 2004 was a career-year for him that simply won't be repeated, ever. Bell posted career-highs in BA, OBP, SLG and 2B's. His numbers were dramatically out-of-character: he ran forty points over his BA, and fifty over his OBP and SLG. e.g., his .363 OBP was .032 over his previous career-high (.331 with the '99 Mariners). Bell's fall-to-earth this season is pretty much what he's going to do for the rest of his career: he's going to be a solid .240 BA, .300 OBP guy, maybe 15 or so home runs a year, etc.

Now Bell's glove is another issue. Mike Humphries Defense Regression Analysis (DRA) (click here to read about Mike's system and results) rates Bell very well. According to DRA Bell saves the Phillies ten runs a year with his glove, a factor that certainly makes his career .318 OBP easier to live with.

Currently for this season Bell is leading the NL in Zone Rating for 3B's:

3B ZR:
Bell: .816
Burroughs: .812
Ensburg: .810

He's also second in Range Factor. Bottom-line is that he is a very good defensive 3B, which raises an interesting issue: does his prowess with the glove excuse his foibles at the plate? Would the Phillies be better off with him gone?

This is a subject I'll be laying to rest for a while.

While I'm no D Bell fan, I would note that his pre-Philly career stats were compiled at Pac Bell and Safeco, 2 of the most pitching-friendly ballparks around. So Phils could have reasonably expected him to improve at least a little on those numbers.
Good stuff Mike.

I'm a fan of David Bell, and the reason why transcends numbers.

Reading Buddy Bell's book about the mental game of baseball, it's very clear that D. Bell must work harder and concentrate more than any player on the field to stay at this level. He's surrounded by athletes with gifts, and he is not one of them.

In a perfect world, he'd platoon with a younger replacement and work as a late-inning d-sub. He's been good against LHP this season, but that's about all one can say about his offense. I've been a fan of his defense all season. I'm sure pitchers like having him back there.
I loath David Bell. I'm sorry but the guy just flat out sucks. He was up twice in key situations last night in the Brewers game and he bit it each time. Like he does in so many situations. Now Polanco is gone and we are stuck with this fool. The Phillies royally goofed with this idiot. I can't wait until he's gone.
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