(This will be your mandatory Brandon Belt post for the week.)
Have you heard about Brandon Belt’s hitting mechanics? It’s all the kids can talk about these days. No, really. This being the Internet, your opinion of Belt’s mechanics probably ranges from “he’s awful” to “I think he’s probably acceptable.” Sometime, a few years back, it seemed that a lot of people writing about baseball suddenly became mechanics experts, both pitching and hitting. Oh, this guy has the dreaded inverted-W, and this guy has an arm-bar, and this guy swings the bat with his feet. You started to see a lot of stuff like that.
That’s not to say that “mechanics” based analysis is some form of witchcraft; quite the opposite, it’s often an interesting way to look at baseball questions.
I can’t remember a Giant, in the last 20-ish years that I’ve followed this team, that’s had the amount of ink spilled on his hitting mechanics other than Brandon Belt. When the Giants drafted Belt out of Texas they changed the way he stood in the batter’s box.
Coming out of Texas, Belt looked something like this:
I’m not a hitting coach, but I’d call that technique “scrunchy” as a batter. The Giants famously re-worked Belt’s mechanics and, as a minor leaguer, he tore through the system.
My question is this: Has Belt’s hitting mechanics changed since he appeared in 2011?
Here’s a Belt swing from July 19, 2011 against the Dodgers.
And here is the theoretical “Bad Belt” swing from earlier this season in April — when Belt was largely struggling.
And, finally, the “Better Belt” swing against the Diamondbacks on Monday. This was Belt’s triple that immediately drew raves from Duane Kuiper on the TV-side.
Now remember, I’m not an expert — far from it, I’m just a dweeb with some .gifs — but Belt’s swing doesn’t look all that different to me between each .gif. He’s clearly a little more open in the last .gif, but other than that, I can’t really tell. It’s possible that he’s standing a little straighter in the 2011 .gif, but it’s hard to say.
Which this all makes me wonder if Belt’s hitting mechanics are the new “Pablo Sandoval is too fat” panic topic. It’s hard to say what the Giants want to change with Belt’s swing that they didn’t already tinker with as a prospect. Could his mechanics use help? Maybe. I don’t really know. But I think it’s pretty clear that Belt should be given the chance to play first base. He’s better than Aubrey Huff right now; and, he’s clearly better than Brett Pill.