Monday, July 29, 2013

Brandon Belt - Should the Front Office Give Up on the Baby Giraffe?

Mention Brandon Belt to any Giants fan, and you'll quickly find his most loyal supporters or staunch opponents. Of his supporters, many will quickly advocate patience and his immense upside, and of course his stellar glove work at first base. Then you'll find fans that have grown impatient with his lack of production from a position that has historically been one of the best producing offensive positions in baseball. Now add to the mix that the Giants are spiraling out of relevance in 2013, and the glaring numbers that Belt has produced is even more noticeable.

In 2012, in his first full season as a Major Leaguer, Belt had an unimpressive offensive year. His Major League offensive rankings for a first baseman only verifies that.

113 hits, ranked #22
47 runs, ranked T#27
7 home runs, ranked #38
56 RBI, ranked #25
54 walks, ranked #15
106 strikeouts, ranked #14

Fast forward to 2013 (as of July 26th) and the numbers do not fair any better.

81 hits, ranked #18
42 runs, ranked #19
10 home runs, ranked #23
39 RBI, ranked #23
33 walks, ranked #17
80 strikeouts, ranked #13
.260 average, ranked #15
.335 OBP, ranked #14
.434 SLG, ranked #19
.769 OPS, ranked #16

While it appears that Belt will break some personal records from the previous year,  the point of frustration for most fans is that he's still well below where a first baseman should be from an offensive stand point. The fear that most fans have is that he will eventually be mentioned in the same sentence as Damon Minor, JR Phillips, Travis Ishikawa, John Bowker, Lance Niekro, et al. All former Giants prospects that never made it as a regular first baseman for the club because of the same offensive attributes that Belt currently has. In fact, most opponents of Belt would argue that the club has not had a legitimate home grown first baseman since Will Clark - he broke in with the club in 1986, that's a long time ago. What makes this even more frustrating is that two of the most well known players to ever play  first base for the Giants have tried endlessly to help Belt's swing mechanics and approach - Will Clark and JT Snow. Earlier this year, when Snow was interviewed on KNBR, he even seemed frustrated on the lack of Belt's progression as a hitter, and his reluctance to change his approach.

So now the question is, when should the Giants sever this experiment as Belt being our regular first baseman? Is it time to look elsewhere?

Brandon Belt

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