If you follow the Giants every day, you know about the weird relationship between Brandon Belt and a vocal subset of Giant fans. For them, Belt is the problem. Take this Facebook comment from when the official San Francisco Giants account announced that Belt won the NL Player of the Week Award:
Good point, I guess, if we ignore the fact that however Belt makes his outs, he has this season made fewer outs per plate appearance than any Giant starter except Posey and Scutaro. The strikeouts just aren’t really a problem. Belt is hot right now, though. He changed his grip, apparently, and that has made him good. Seems like a convenient explanation, and like the best-shape-of-his-life stories you read every spring, probably too simple. Belt has actually been hitting quite well for all but the first three weeks of the season:
Belt in April: .235/.287/.353 2 HR
Belt since May 1: .285/.370/.507 12 HR
If you want to use an even more arbitrary endpoint, he’s been even better since April 22. Those first three weeks just killed him. So whether it’s the new grip, standing further back in the box, or both, or neither, Brandon Belt is suddenly having a very nice year, which the writers at the Chronicle are trying to tell us is better than the nice year he was already having.
If you believe in the park factors that go into OPS+, Belt is already something of a star, with a higher career OPS+ than Cecil Cooper, Paul Konerko, Gil Hodges, and Mark Grace. And he’s not just arguably a better hitter than those guys. Here’s the list, though August 20, of San Francisco Giants first basemen with an OPS over .750:
The best part is that we can stop having this silly argument about Belt’s worth to the team.