There’s been a lot written about Brandon Belt this season. The topics have ranged from “why the heck aren’t you playing him more” to “oh my god please play him more”. And, as Rory noted in his previous post, the bulk of blog writing this year has centered on the Giants’ pitiful offense. It’s bad, if you haven’t heard by now. And by bad, I mean really, really, not good. Not even a little.
In last night’s game Brandon Belt hit his first career triple — a flyball that he dunked in the CF-RF gap — while going 2-3. He raised his batting average to .243 and as his BABIP has normalized — now at .292 — most of his other numbers have started to look much better. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Brandon Belt, at right this very moment, is one of the team’s three best hitters. You can place Sandoval and Beltran in front of him, but other than that, it seems pretty clear that Belt should get more starts, at-bats, and chances down the stretch. His strikeout rate is still a little high (24.4%) but he’s walking at a good rate (11.4%) and hitting for good power (.185 ISO). I’m not overly concerned with the strikeout rate right now since Belt really hasn’t had an adjustment period in the majors. His K-rate was elevated in Fresno (around 30%), but I don’t think anyone can make the argument that Belt has had a lot of stability this season. He’s been shuffled back-and-forth between AAA and the majors more than any other Giant prospect in recent memory.
Among players with at least 100 plate appearances on the Giants — the non-Beltran division, must be active — Belt ranks (1) in BB%, (2) in ISO, (2) in OBP, (2) in SLG tied with Nate, (2) in wOBA, and (2) in wRC+.
That sounds like a guy that this team could really use. It’s a good sign that Bochy has started Belt more down the stretch, but you have to wonder if it’s too little too late. The Giants won last year by ditching unproductive veterans (Molina) for high upside prospects (Posey), and this year the same scenario has presented itself. The Molina-Huff situations aren’t identical, things rarely are, but there are a lot of strong parallels between them. When the year ends and the Giants’ brain trust is sitting at home, you’ve got wonder if they are going to regret the way they’ve handled Brandon Belt this year.