2020 Giants season preview: First baseman Brandon Belt

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Brandon Belt stayed healthy for the San Francisco Giants last year, but his numbers were disappointing. Can he turn things around in 2020?

Despite the feelings of a large contingent of the San Francisco Giants fanbase, Brandon Belt is still the team’s starting first baseman heading into 2020.

Can he bounce back from a rough 2019 season?

The conventional wisdom regarding Belt has long been that if he could just stay healthy for an entire season, he would have that All-Star level year that he has long seemed capable of producing.

In 2019, he stayed healthy enough to play 156 games, but production did not follow.

In 616 plate appearances, Belt hit .234/.339/.403 with 17 home runs and 57 RBI. To say these numbers are disappointing would be an understatement. Apparently, success for Belt is not as simple as staying on the field.

It’s worth noting that Belt spot a good chunk of the season batting leadoff, which one could argue was a misuse of his talents. He has always been a middle-of-the-order guy, so perhaps playing a new role of trying to get on base rather than driving in runs was partly the cause of his disappointing year.

In 2020, it is very unlikely Belt will be batting leadoff again. With alternative options like Steven Duggar, Mike Yastrzemski, and Mauricio Dubon, he will be able to return to the middle of the order where he is most comfortable.

However, with the acquisition of Wilmer Flores who hits left-handed pitching extremely well, there is the possibility that Belt could be used in more of a platoon role in 2010. That could be motivation enough for him to put together a bounce-back season.

In the end, I think Belt will enjoy a slight turnaround, with an average north of .250. I will even go out on a limb and say he will record his first career 20 home run season in 2020.

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A return to the middle of the batting order will free him up to focus on driving the ball and he will be one of the top contributor on a sluggish Giants offense.