By Jennifer Cosgriff
Editor's Note: Jennifer was an intern for the Giants and A's Magazines and currently helps record sound bites for radio.
So, my boy Belt has taken quite a verbal lashing in the past week. It's been a little tough to listen to. Yes, he's been struggling. Yes, he's had a really slow start to the second half. July has been a tough month for him. But he should still be starting practically every day. Now, before you call me (maybe) crazy, let me explain myself.
Belt has the potential for power that first base needs. So far this season, he has four home runs. Nobody else has as many at that position. Brett Pill has three on the season and Aubrey Huff has just one. Posey has hit just one homer at first base (yes, he has 12 on the season, but only one has come in the games when he's started at first). Belt has 211 at-bats on the season.
While four home runs in 211 ABs is not the best stat, Belt has shown us that he has the ability to drive the ball. Like I've written before, he hit his four homers doing the stretch in June where he started 17 games in a row. Since then, he hasn't started more than four games in a row. For a 23-year-old who's experiencing his first full year in the majors, consistent time at the plate is crucial for his development. Brandon has looked lost at the plate in recent at-bats, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and taking called strikes that are seemingly right down the plate. But how is he supposed to work through these issues from the bench?
Defensively, he's also the Giants best option. Posey has committed two errors at first base, the same as Belt. Posey has a .989 fielding percentage behind the plate and has only one passed ball. Hector Sanchez, while solid at the plate, has struggled a little defensively. He's got a .987 fielding percentage with two passed balls in half the innings that Posey has played at catcher. It's not that Sanchez isn't a great prospect with a lot to offer this club, but right now Posey is the best option behind the plate.
It's a detriment to the Giants, at least on the defensive end, to have Posey at first base. Looking ahead to a the pennant race in September and, hopefully, any playoff games, Posey behind the plate and Belt at first gives San Francisco it's best defensive team. That's the team that should be on the field in a big game. Why would we not want to see that team as often as possible during the regular season?
Lastly, the disparaging remarks from Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean have got to stop. We are all painfully aware when a player is struggling at the plate. And I'm pretty sure that Brandon Belt is aware that he's only batting .150 with zero home runs and two RBIs in the month of July. However, I can't see how Bochy openly saying that Belt is having a tough time is helpful to Brandon.
And the remarks about Huff coming back to help out Belt aren't realistic. Huff is not the future at first base. Prior to his injury on June 13, Huff was batting .155 with no home runs and five RBIs on the season. He'll turn 36 this December. His contract is up at the end of this season, and it seems unlikely that he'll be back for another season with the Giants. And while Belt is not exactly making the strongest case for himself to start every day, his stats at least show signs of the first baseman he could become. Belt's .348 OBP ties him for seventh in the league among first basemen. This is largely helped by his 37 walks for the season. It's not much, but it does point to Belt's ability to take a pitch and have a patient at-bat.
At some point, the Giants will have to decide who they want to invest in as their first baseman of the future. If it's Brandon Belt, then they need to commit now. If their banking on him to be playing 1B for this franchise, Bochy needs to put him out there every day. Belt will grow at the plate with consistency. It will not only help him work out the kinks in his swing but will show him that his manager and team believe in his ability to get the job done. Right now, the poor guy could use all the confidence boosting that he can get.
Her blog can be found here.