SF Giants Gifts: Brandon Belt Health
Belt missed the early part of the season and got off to a terribly slow start. Then, he got hot and seemed to carry that momentum through the end of the season. Belt finished the year with a career-best .309/.425/.591 triple-slash. He also received an eighth-place vote for the National League Most Valuable Player award and was a finalist for a Gold Glove and All-MLB selection.
Not only was Belt able to have the most productive season of his career at 32-years old, but he excelled in almost all metrics. Even by Statcast data, Belt’s expected numbers were in line with his elite production. It took nearly a decade, but Belt finally had a season that met the ceiling many scouts had projected for him when he was the top prospect in the Giants system.
The new coaching staff under manager Gabe Kapler deserves some credit, but it’s hard to ignore the peculiar circumstances of the 2020 season. Belt has dealt with chronic knee injuries throughout his career. The wear and tear of a 162-game season is difficult on every big-league player. Someone like Belt, though, may be particularly likely to see their performance wane over a longer season.
With the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start of the season, Belt got a prolonged offseason to let his body recover as much as possible. Then, when the league returned, players only had to play a 60-game season. Next season, Belt will not have the same extended rest and shortened season, but if he can be as healthy as possible, fans now know he’s capable of being one of the top hitters in the league.