As a switch-hitter, Orioles third baseman Josh Bell should have the platoon advantage whenever he steps into the batter’s box.
There’s just one problem: Bell has an alarming platoon split.
Consider the enormous gap in Bell’s left/right splits this season between Double-A Chattanooga and Bowie:
vs. RHPs: .339/.417/.626 in 362 PAs
vs. LHPs: .193/.282/.259 in 156 PAs
It could just be small sample size, but Bell has shown a pronounced platoon split his entire career. Since Bell made his full-season debut in 2007, he has hit 41 of his 43 home runs against righthanded pitchers. He has plus raw power, but it only shows up when he bats lefthanded.
It’s no statistical fluke. Scouts who have watched Bell repeatedly say that Bell’s swing is much better as a lefthanded hitter. He struggles to lift the ball as a righthanded batter, to the point where he might be better served giving up switch-hitting.
The good news, aside from Bell’s ability to rake as a lefthanded hitter, is that his defense has improved significantly since last season. While there were concerns about Bell’s size and ability to remain at third base coming into the year, scouts have noted that Bell appears to have slimmed down and improved his fielding.
Managers voted Bell the best defensive third baseman in the Southern League, as he has an above-average arm, decent range and did a better job of making the routine play this season.
Bell has become one of the best third base prospects in the game. All that’s left for him to do is figure out how to hit southpaws, be it from the left or right side of the plate.