The San Francisco Giants are still losing and find themselves fully entrenched at the bottom of the NL West. There are many facets of the team that can be blamed for this disappointing season, but the play of Brandon Belt should not be one of them. This became even more apparent during the Giants’ 5-2 extra innings loss against the Baltimore Orioles. Down 0-2 going into the 7th inning, Belt sent a pitch from starter Chris Tillman into the deepest part of AT&T Park. Belt’s homerun reached the very corner of triple’s alley and registered at a whopping 431 feet. Hunter Pence tied the game up in the 9th before a Chris Davis double in the 10th gave the Orioles the win.
One homerun does not define a player’s season. That’s obvious, but Belt’s monster jam is a testament to his continued improvement. The young first baseman has had several years to take his play to the next level. It is true that Belt has been given plenty of time and opportunity to show the Giants organization that he is here to stay. Many Giants fans consider him a disappointment and have truly begun to lose patience this season. However, what they don’t realize is that the team’s problems have nothing to do with Belt’s play. He has in fact improved this season and is showing signs of truly breaking out.
Belt’s .811 OPS ranks second on the team and only trails that of Buster Posey. His thirteen homeruns are also second, sitting behind only Pence and Posey. Belt is fourth in RBIs (45) and second in slugging percentage (.462). He has continued to get on base and sports a solid .349 OBP. This number is good for third on the team. It is clear that while Belt’s numbers may not be very flashy, they are respectable and indispensible for a team struggling to score runs.
Belt does possess an unsightly strikeout rate that leads the entire Giants roster. However, with each strikeout, Belt has responded by improving in virtually every other category. Since last season he has hit .271, with a .353 OBS and a .785 OPS. These numbers rank at the top of the Giants roster, trailing only Posey. The fact that Triple-A superstar, Brett Pill, is still taking away from Belt’s playing time is a travesty. The team hasn’t struggled because of first base, but rather it is the lack of production from centerfield and left field. The loss of Angel Pagan has been huge and because of that the Giants rank 21st in OPS this season.
The biggest issue has clearly been left field; the Giants’ incumbents have combined to produce some of the worst numbers in all of baseball. Giants’ fans forget the play Melky Cabrera gave the team before his season ending suspension last year. Giants’ fans have to look past Belt’s shortcomings and need to see the very real improvements he has made this season. Belt has yet to reach his full potential, but if Giants’ fans ever want to see it they need to cut the kid some slack. If he was truly the reason the Giants have been struggling this season, then that would be a different story. However, the truth is that the whole team is to blame.