Brandon Belt is not wearing an SF Giants uniform for the first time in his career in 2023. Nevertheless, he is in the midst of a resurgent campaign with the Toronto Blue Jays while proving that he still has plenty left in the tank.
Former SF Giants first baseman finding success with new team
The Giants selected the left-handed bat in the fifth round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Texas - Austin. He quickly rose through the minor league system while becoming one of the best prospects in baseball.
That is not an easy accomplishment to do given that he did not have the draft pedigree of a top pick, but teams find plenty of success stories in the fifth round as well. And, for the Giants, Belt has been their biggest success story from that round.
He debuted with San Francisco at the start of 2011 and slammed a home run in just his second career game. It was even sweeter that it came against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The 35-year-old held down first base for the Giants for the next 12 seasons, winning two World Series rings and one All-Star nod. He has put together a fantastic career.
In his age-34 season, the power-hitting infielder struggled to the tune of a .676 OPS with just eight home runs in 298 plate appearances last year. This was a steep decline from the .975 OPS and 29 home runs he recorded in 2021.
Belt battled a nagging knee injury that required season-ending surgery. Given his age and injury history, there were questions as to whether he would continue his career. He will likely enter the offseason without those questions lingering unless, of course, he decides to hang up his spikes on his own volition.
The left-handed slugger joined the Blue Jays on a one-year, $9.3 million deal last winter. He was joining a team that expected to compete for a playoff spot, so he was in a position where he needed to produce. He was not that veteran who plays on a struggling team but offers an experienced voice in the clubhouse but not much else on the field.
The Giants had interest in bringing him back but it just did not come together. Belt's Blue Jays career did not get off on the right foot as he struggled to the tune of a .534 OPS through the first month of the season. He has been excellent since then, posting an .890 OPS with nine home runs in 254 plate appearances.
Similar to the Giants, Toronto is in the middle of a playoff race as they have a 65-53 record while holding down the third Wild Card spot in the American League. Giants fans know that Belt can carry a lineup when his swing is right and the Blue Jays hope that he can continue this hot streak at the plate.