San Francisco Giants 2017 Player Review: The Infielders

By Michael Saltzman
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Shortstop Brandon Crawford
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: Shortstop Brandon Crawford /
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 11: Brandon Belt
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 11: Brandon Belt /

Brandon Belt

BRANDON BELT. C-. . 1B. San Francisco Giants

Brandon Belt had his best power season in 2017. Despite playing in only 104 games, he hit as many home runs as he had ever hit in a season with 18. He hit 18 as well in 2015, but in 110 more at bats. He finished the season with an .823 OPS and a 117 OPS+.

However, when looking at the National League, that was one of the lowest among first baseman with an OPS of .800 or better and a OPS+ of 100 or higher.

This is big because Belt’s numbers have been the talk of sports radio in the Bay Area for his entire career. Some fans want more home runs and a higher batting average from their first baseman. Some fans want more respect for Belt’s ability on defense and more respect for his ability to get on base.

However, in 2017, his .355 OBP was nowhere near his .394 OBP in 2016 All-Star season. Belt was still worth three wins above replacement or WAR in 2017, but that number is also lower than last season. Much of that has to do with injuries.

Belt missed the final 50 games of the season after suffering another concussion. He also was diagnosed with a concussion back in 2015 that ended his season.

This was Belt’s fourth known concussion, and his third in the past four seasons with the Giants. Those three have caused him to miss a combined 111 games.

Back in September, Bruce Jenkins had an explosive quote from sources that indicated to Jenkins “that manager Bruce Bochy would welcome a new look at this position.”

Add to that the fact that Belt is owed $64 million through 2021 and the Giants have many reasons to have doubt about first base.

Posey played first base primarily in Belt’s absence and plenty of fans would like to see that more often anyway. For more on Posey and his season, look out for our Catcher’s Review coming soon.

As for Belt, health and consistency will be the most important factors in 2018.