Community Projection: Brandon Belt

Last year on Valentine's Day, this very site featured a community projection for Miguel Tejada. That seems like a perfect metaphor. So much tenderness (of the hamstrings). So many broken hearts. Those candy hearts taste like the rosin bag that Tejada would use to keep his hands dry. It all fits.

It's community-projection time! Maybe you don't think that needs an exclamation point. But I like these posts. They're excuses to talk about particular players. Of course the projections are going to be awful and inaccurate -- we're all idiots here -- but it gives us a chance to convene and decide which players we're optimistic about, and which players are supposed to be in the lineup. Remember when we were pessimistic about Aubrey Huff, and then the next year we were optimistic? That was awesome. The first time.

Going in alphabetical order, or something close to it, and alternating between hitters and pitchers gets us to the projection that'll make y'all research Molotov cocktails. Because as a reminder, Brandon Belt will not start this year. Maybe in September. Belt is projected to be one of the best hitters on the team by PECOTA and ZiPS, but the Giants have other plans.

Last year, Aubrey Huff didn't come into camp in the best shape of his life. He didn't come into came in the best shape of Ozzy Osbourne's life. His manager knew this and called him out on it after the season was over. Before that, Huff came into the season a little soft, he struggled, and he didn't lose his job. Them's just the facts. If Huff really is in great shape right now, I don't see how he'll lose his manager's faith now. It's not overly cynical to point that out.

Here's the thing, though: It wasn't that crazy last year. There's no shame in being an Internet know-it-all, but last season when we were clamoring for Belt to replace Huff, their rest-of-season projections weren't that dissimilar. Actually, they were eerily similar. They don't take into account the general squishiness that Huff was supposedly featuring, but Bochy felt more comfortable with the veteran. Considering past performance, it wasn't a ludicrous position to take.

While the rest-of-season projections were okay for Huff while he was swirling the bowl last year, they're not nearly as good for the upcoming season. When projection systems process a 34-year-old having the season like Huff had, they don't like it. PECOTA has Huff at .253/.320/.401, well below what they project for Belt (.255/.349/.429). ZiPS isn't as pessimistic about Huff, but Belt easily wins that round too.

At some point, Brandon Belt will be a better hitter than Aubrey Huff. That point was probably last March, but that's with the benefit of hindsight. But no matter which side of the rookie/veteran debate you're on, you have to admit that Belt will be a better hitter one day. Maybe it's when Belt is 34 and Huff is 44, but it'll happen. The important thing for the Giants is they figure out when that was/will be, and for them to make a deft transition.

You know, to make a nice, sensible transition from a veteran to his younger replacement.

The Giants. That's what the Giants will need to do.

*cough*

...

Hey, it could happen. There's a decent chance that either Huff or Nate Schierholtz will struggle, which would open up a spot for Belt. There's a chance that the Giants force a spot open with a trade. As silly as the whole situation was, the Giants really did trade Bengie Molina. They actually picked up a phone and sent him away to create a spot for Buster Posey. We can joke about the veteranophila, and we can grumble about why Molina was around in the first place, but when it came time to open a lineup spot for a rookie, they actually did it by trading a veteran. They're not totally unreasonable. Just mostly unreasonable.

It'd almost be worse for the Giants to make room for Belt based on spring-training performances. I'd take it, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be gross.

This is a dual projection, then -- you're projecting how Belt will do, but you're also projecting how the Giants will do.

Brandon Belt
AB: 321
HR: 14
AVG: .244
OBP: 339
SLG: .453

The projection would be higher if we know that Belt was going to have a job regardless of what happens in the spring. Like, say, Brandon Crawford. I'm wondering when it'll stop being amazing that the Giants are taking a completely hands-off approach with Crawford, who essentially skipped AAA, while taking their mood disorders out on Belt.

Or, you could ignore every word of this article and just go with this prediction: More yo-yoing.

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