WASHINGTON — For as good of a start to the season Josh Bell has had, the Nationals’ first baseman didn’t tap into his power very much for the first two months. He entered June with only four long balls in 50 games, reaching base at a strong clip but not displaying the strength that’s helped him break the 25-homer mark in three separate seasons.
That started to change during the Nationals’ series against the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend. Bell hit home runs in back-to-back games, the first time he had done so since July 19-20, 2021. He wouldn’t go that long before doing it again.
Bell hit a home run in the Nationals’ series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, hit another in the first game of their doubleheader Friday then slugged two more during the nightcap. It was the first time he had collected four homers in two days in his entire career.
“He’s just trying to hit the ball a little more out front,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said in a press conference between games of the doubleheader. “His point of contact, just trying to get out in front a little bit and get the ball more in the air. He’s done well. He’s worked religiously will [hitting coach] Darnell [Coles] on trying to improve every day.”
Last season, Bell spent the month of June making up for a lackluster start. He finished May hitting just .207 with a .668 OPS. This year, his numbers sat at .298 and .786, respectively, heading into the month. The stronger baseline has helped him keep his mind clear and put less pressure on himself to keep improving.
“It feels good,” Bell said of his impressive start. “It’s a lot easier to go to sleep at night so now it’s just about continuing to maintaining the foundation I’ve set but continue to level up.”
Level up, he has. Bell has hit as many long balls in the last two days as he had in the entire first two months of the season. He’s now on pace to match the 27 home runs he hit last year.