This is Why The Phillies Signed David Bell

When the Phillies signed David Bell as a free agent, they never said that he would make fans forget Scott Rolen or Mike Schmidt. What Bell brought was a tough, gritty player who would do all the right things to help the Phillies win. After an injury plagued first season in Philly, fans were ready to dump Bell for whatever they could get. Now, Bell is a key part of the Phillies and is showing why the Phillies brought him to town.

Perhaps, we were short-sighted. Perhaps, we didn't pay enough attention to those "intangibles" that people talk about with players like David Bell. Perhaps, we trusted our first impressions too much rather than looking at what David Bell did for other teams in other cities. Perhaps, we owe David Bell an apology.

When David Bell crashed into the fence surrounding the infield at Veterans Stadium early in the 2003 season, it put a crack in the Bell, so to speak. While Bell's personality wouldn't let him take himself out of the lineup or admit how much pain he was in, all Phillies fans saw was a player who looked somewhat lost. One of the very things that makes David Bell so good - his determination to play hard and win - made his first season in Philadelphia rougher than anyone imagined it would be.

Sometimes, you simply have to look beyond the stats. Yes, baseball is a numbers game. Fans pour over statistics and sometimes, we figure that they tell the whole story of a player. The problem is that there are no statistics for some of the things that David Bell does. You can't put Bell's quiet, behind-the-scenes sort of leadership into a stat column. Some players simply make a team better by being a part of that team and David Bell - when he's healthy - is one of those players.

Looking for a power hitting third baseman? Bell is not you guy, although he will chip in with a long ball now and then. Usually, they come at key points in a game, too. Looking for a Gold Glove third baseman? David Bell isn't likely to win a Gold Glove, but he's going to make the routine plays and from time-to-time, he'll dazzle us with a great play. Again, usually it comes at a key moment in the game. Even this season, Bell has struggled with some throws because of a sore shoulder that he continues to receive treatment for. Still, he's an above average fielder who generally gets the job done.

Philadelphia is finally getting to see the kind of player that David Bell is. He can be put in different spots in the lineup, he could move to second base if needed, he is a great presence for both young players and veterans to lean on and he simply gets the job done. So many times, we point to the season long slump by Pat Burrell last year and say that without that slump, the Phillies would have won the wild card. True enough. Without the injury to David Bell, the Phillies would have also won the wild card.

We were too short-sighted, didn't pay enough attention to the "intangibles" and we trusted our first impressions too much when it came to Bell's first season in Philadelphia. We do owe Bell an apology. Philadelphia fans can deliver wrath like no fans anywhere else in the country. Most times, it's deserved. Sometimes, we jump too quickly to ride a player out of town on a rail. Hindsight being what it is, we need to realize that we did that with David Bell. We need to realize that Bell is a strong part of the lineup that seems to do the things that are needed to win at the times when they're needed most.

Since baseball is such a numbers game, there are some numbers to look at for David Bell. With runners in scoring position, Bell is hitting .324 this season. With runners on base in general, he's at .319. In situations described as "clutch" Bell is hitting .387 on the season. That's what David Bell is all about. That's why the Phillies signed David Bell and that's why Philadelphia fans are growing to love David Bell.

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories