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San Francisco Giants: Who should replace Brandon Belt as leadoff hitter?

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 30: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants round the bases on a home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 30: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants round the bases on a home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 30, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images) /
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DENVER, CO – JULY 15: Mike Yastrzemski #5 of the San Francisco Giants rounds first base as he and Mark Reynolds #12 of the Colorado Rockies watch the flight of a solo home run in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO – JULY 15: Mike Yastrzemski #5 of the San Francisco Giants rounds first base as he and Mark Reynolds #12 of the Colorado Rockies watch the flight of a solo home run in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at Coors Field on July 15, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /

Mike Yastrzemski

Not who you expected?

On the surface, he might not seem like an obvious fit.

Acquired in a minor trade with the Baltimore Orioles during the offseason, Mike Yastrzemski has emerged from Triple-A to establish himself as one of the best hitters on the team.

The 28-year-old boasts a .264/.316/.477 line with 10 home runs in 63 games in his first taste of big league action this season The prowess he has shown at the plate, combined with his above-average speed, makes him the ideal candidate for a trial run in the leadoff spot.

Yes, his on-base percentage is on the low side at .316, but that’s still better than the leadoff spot as a whole has produced this year. And with one of the higher slugging percentages on the team, he’s proven capable of putting himself in scoring position with one swing.

In fact, a simple flip-flop of Belt and Yastrzemski—who has been hitting mostly second of late—could be a win-win. In 18 games batting second this year, Belt has a .370 on-base percentage and an .805 OPS.

That switch would also give the Giants legitimate speed on the base paths from the leadoff spot. Yastrzemski is certainly not Billy Hamilton, but he has enough speed to make a starting pitcher think twice. That might be all it takes for the pitcher to make a mistake to the patient Belt.

The return of Evan Longoria and the eventual return of Alex Dickerson also allow the team the ability to put a hitter with good pop like Yastrzemski in the leadoff spot, since they have capable run producers to fill the middle-of-the-order spots.

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It’s time for the San Francisco Giants to shake things up. Give Mike Yastrzemski a shot at filling the leadoff spot and see if he can stick. Hasn’t that been the formula all year?

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