At 24 years-old, the Giants need Brandon Belt to start blossoming into a major league hitter. Last year he won the first base job by having a phenomenal spring training, but it didn’t carry into the regular season. Belt just wasn’t able to stick with the Giants for the entire year which for someone who had never had any experience of failures in the minor leagues, was probably hard to digest.
There was a very simple pattern. He was sent down and called back up, sent down, called back up, and so on, but never did he establish any consistent presence in the Giants clubhouse. It also didn’t help that he suffered a fractured hand right when he was starting to show some life at the plate.
This year, the story has been somewhat similar, considering that Belt made the team because he had another dominant spring training, but in 2011 the first base job was Aubrey Huff’s to lose and he lost it. After going on the DL with anxiety disorder, Huff’s new spot in the lineup has been the bench and he better get used to the bench because it seems like Bruce Bochy has no plans of getting Huff off the pine anytime soon.
After Bochy sent Brett Pill down last Friday, the Giants roster consists of no “true” right handed hitting first basemen. Sure the tandem of Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez can fill that void if needed, but they have the catching duties to handle. Which means that Belt will likely be given a chance to show the coaching staff what he can do before the trade deadline.
What can he do to win the starting job at first base?
It’s very simple, he needs to hit for power. The Giants lineup has maybe two legitimate power hitters in Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey, and if Belt could soon be added to that group, the Giants offense would suddenly look like an offense that opposing pitchers might be worried about facing rather than dying to face, a la 2011.
After hitting nine homeruns in just 187 at-bats last year, the Giants coaching staff thought they had found the answer to their power outage in Belt, but we sit here in the middle of June and the same guy has hit just one homerun.
Belt’s swing consists of too many holes for me to count, and the Giants are supposedly working on the issue. However, you look at Adam Dunn’s swing and it has just as many problems, but he stands near the top the American League with 19 long balls. So Belt can hit for power even though his swing looks more than quirky, he just has to have the mindset to be a power hitter.
Having said that, power hitters don’t aim to hit the ball to the opposite field, and unfortunately, that’s where Belt’s mindset is currently at. This could easily change, it’s just going to take a little work both mentally and physically.
Yes, Brandon Belt hasn’t lived up to expectations so far in his young career, but he’s 24 years-old, and maybe he has finally reached a turning point after hitting a home run on Tuesday night. If he has reached the end of his slump, then the Giants’ offense will get a big boost, especially at the bottom of the lineup where help is most needed.