I'll admit, as a Giants fan, I have always had high expectations for Brandon Belt. Coming into 2013, my expectations were only made higher by his phenomenal spring. I'm aware that he swung the bat well in the spring in 2012 as well, but this year he was showing even more power and was swinging the bat with more confidence than I had ever seen out of him. Of course, he isn't quite hitting .400 right now and isn't exactly on pace for a 50 homerun season, BUT I think he's been playing better than his .250/.326/.425 slash line would suggest.
Across 25 games in each month, increases in just about everything. More runs, more RBIs, more bombs, down on strikeouts, better average, better on-base, better slugging, better OPS+. I mean he stole two bases in April but I guess we can't win em all. Anyway, you can see the point I'm making. Good to see his slow start is upward trending and maybe by August he'll be hitting 15 homeruns per month... or something like that.
On another note, let's give Brandon some credit for hitting when it counts. He may not be hitting like an All-Star in the first two months this year, but he's been brilliant in crucial situations. In high leverage situations (as defined by FanGraphs), Brandon leads the Giants in just about everything. Of his 6 homeruns this year, 2 of them have come in high leverage plate appearances. Those 2 homeruns in such situations ties him for second among all hitters. He leads the Giants in OPS (1.102), ISO (.364), wRAA (2.7), wOBA(.454), and wRC+(200). Of course, high leverage stats come from a small sample size, but these numbers are impressive no matter how you look at them. For a team like the Giants who come from behind as often as they do, having a player towards the bottom of the order who can do this is valuable.
Finally, I don't know if we give Belt enough credit for his ability with the glove. I know the general perception across baseball certainly doesn't. Brandon currently leads all first basemen in total UZR with a 6.0, leading Mike Napoli (4.7) by 1.3. His UZR/150 of 23.7 also leads all first basemen. The biggest contributor to Belt's excellent UZR is his range. He owns a 5.8 RngR, which, once again, is the best in baseball for first basemen. After watching him snag balls left and right for a while, I still didn't really notice how good he was over there until I looked at some numbers. I suppose I just don't take him quite seriously enough when I'm actually looking at his face, rather than his numbers. Sorry Brandon.
I really hope that Brandon can continue to improve as a hitter. I really like the kid... and I just want him to be a great ballplayer. I certainly think he can do it; just needs to keep working at it like a good young lad.
If this doesn't intimidate you, I don't know what will.
It's a GIF that refuses to move. Kind of like how Belt is a great hitter who refuses to hit. Go ahead and click it so he blinks at you.