Brandon Belt went 0-for-8 last night at the plate. Let that sink in for a moment. Zero hits on 8 attempts. It’s not to say that all of them were bad. I mean, the first inning, he crushed a ball to Left Center that darn well almost went out. His second at-bat wasn’t bad either, but it did go downhill after that. He struck out 5 times, in fact. Add on to the fact that Bruce Bochy finally gave Belt a shot in the 3-hole, and well, let’s just say, Belt has probably had better games.
May 28, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt (9) reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Oakland won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, this brought out all of the #BeltBash trolls, and the ever present Brett Pill lovers. It is hard to defend someone when they do something like go 0-for-8 in a game. Belt has become like that one friend you have that all your other friends hate. You know what I’m talking about. You try to defend them (He’s not that bad), play up their good qualities (He’s a great defensive first baseman), but in the end, they alway make some boneheaded move and you’re just sitting there with your foot in your mouth.
The problem though is that those people only like to come out when things are bad. They’re not paying attention, or at least refusing to see the good side of your buddy Brandon. They forget that he’s 3rd in slugging percentage (.433) of everyday players behind Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. Granted, it’s bad, but he’s not too far behind the beloved Posey. They also forget the 9 home runs he’s hit this season, which also puts him 3rd behind Posey and Pence. OPS & RBIs? He’s 4th. Runs scored? He’s 2nd. Strike outs? He’s 1st. Okay, scratch that one. He does strike out a lot, but so does Baltimore’s Chris Davis. He’s struck out 103 times this season, but he has 33 home runs, so maybe that point is moot.
Yes, I’ll agree. Brandon Belt needs to hit better. He needs to not strike out so much (unless he wants to chip in 33 home runs before the All-Star break), and he needs to be a more consistent bat in our lineup. I know you’ve heard all of this.
May 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants first baseman Brett Pill (6, right) is congratulated by third base coach Tim Flannery (1) for hitting a solo home run off of the Oakland Athletics during the sixth inning at AT
But, Brett Pill?! I mean, are you serious with this stuff? Brett Pill is hitting .148 with San Francisco this season. So what if he’s hitting .352 in Fresno. That’s Fresno. Belt did that during his time in Fresno, too. Pill’s WAR last season with the Giants in 48 games was -0.1. That a negative before that rather small number. Belt’s WAR is at least on the positive side at 1.9 this season and 2.8 last season (Pill’s WAR this season is just 0.0, with limited action).
You also can’t really argue that Pill is better with the glove. I’m not saying Pill is bad, but Belt covers a lot of ground and digs out a lot of balls that a lot of first basemen wouldn’t be able to dig out.
Now, I know what your argument is going to be. It goes something like, Pill hasn’t had a chance to prove himself. Am I right? You think with more at-bats, he would turn into the first baseman of our future. You think he’d be better than Brandon Belt. Let me point out something. Pill is 28 years old. He’s been playing pro ball since 2006. He’s had 7 years to “prove himself” and he’s still hanging out in Fresno most of the time. I’m not saying he’s not a late bloomer, but when you’ve had that long to make it in the bigs, and still haven’t, you’re probably never going to be more than a platoon or bench player. Save your examples of players who beat the odds. Pill will not be one of them. He’s had 4 more years than Belt to claim his rightful place and yet, he still has no everyday place in San Francisco.
Belt on the other hand is still just 25. He’s not a spring chicken, but he’s still finding his way and his role on this team. I will go on my psycho-analyzing rant here and say that most of Belt’s problems are in his head. He’s talented. But he’s also someone who has been the best baseball player he knew his entire life. He commented before the game yesterday he felt comfortable hitting in the 3-spot because he’s hit there his entire life. Prior to San Francisco, he’s always been the hero, the all-star, and the guy who is superior to everyone else. Clearly, he’s not there yet, and maybe won’t ever be that guy. I think he wants to be, and I think that he tries so hard to be that guy that he ends up looking like a chump and striking out 5 times in a game. He’ll get there, and if he doesn’t, the Giants will trade him. Trust me, he could go to any other number of teams and be “that guy.” The Giants would also get a whole lot more from him than they would from Pill, a lifer minor league player who would be a AAAA player if we had those.
So, yes, Brandon Belt is a problem the Giants are having. He’s not THE problem, but is one of many problems. But Brett Pill will not solve the Giants problems, or even the Brandon Belt problem. We’ll see Pill in September, if not sooner. Maybe he can even platoon a little first base with Belt in the meantime if Bochy brings him up. But Pill is not the 1B of our future, Belt is, and he will have the opportunity to be for a bit longer. Let’s just hope Belt doesn’t blow the chance he’s been given to showcase his true talent.
Are you a Pill-lover and hate Brandon Belt? Let’s hear about it in the comments below! Or if you agree, let us know that, too!