There's a bit of a civil war going on right now with Giants fans. It's brother against brother, sister against sister. Team Belt vs. Team Pill. One is expected to hit someday, and one sure looks like he can hit in that pleasing-to-the-eye Jeff Keppinger way right now. Save those dog-eared copies of Storm of Swords and Baseball Prospectus -- they'll need those when they recreate these battles in 150 years.
Obviously, if this isn't Team Belt headquarters, it's at least a satellite facility. Around these parts, we get overly excited about non-prospects like Fred Lewis and John Bowker, so when an actual, honest-to-goodness prospect comes through, he's sort of infallible. That on-base percentage hovering around .300 for Belt? Bah, sample size. Jerked around. Sampled around all jerk-sized by Bochy. He'll be fine. You'll see.
Then comes up this Brett Pill with his Fresno swing and his RBI charm, and he makes loud contact right away. He becomes an obvious alternative. Belt is having problems with breaking balls and front-door sinkers, and he's pressing a little bit, but Pill sure looks the part of a starting first baseman. And Bruce Bochy is a little fond of this new right-handed option. We're threatened at Belt Fanboy Headquarters. DEFCON 3 over here.
What that means is that there's a lot of hyperbole flying around on both sides. It's become a little fashionable in some circles to almost root against Pill. Extremists like that are why we can't have nice things. Here's where the argument should end:
Player A is 23 years old, and he hit for power and average while getting on base at a ridiculous clip at Fresno.
Player B is 27 years old, and he hit for power and average at Fresno while sporting a below-average on-base percentage.
Strip the emotion from it, and it's obvious who should start. It's not close. There shouldn't be a spring-training battle, there shouldn't be a wait-and-see. Of course, as long as Huff is around, he'll start at first, so it's not a true either/or situation. But assume that there is a choice between Belt and Pill. Now read the stuff in the blockquote again. There is no choice between Belt and Pill. Here's what the two have in common:
- Both were drafted by the Giants
- Both are carbon-based first basemen
- Both have four-letter last names that are also nouns (and verbs too, if you have a cat)
Fascinating. But this isn't a post to rehash the argument that shouldn't even be an argument -- we're talking Miller's Crossing vs. Boondock Saints, people -- this is a post in support of Pill. Not as an alternative to Belt, but as a product of the Giants organization who could be around for a few years.
It's okay to root for him.
The team really can use some right-handers off the bench, first off. There's no guarantee that Pat Burrell will ever be healthy enough to warrant a roster spot. Pill could be an okay option on the 25-man roster next year. As a prospect, he's not a prospect. He's 26, he doesn't get on base, and he's mostly limited to first base. His numbers are inflated by park and league, and the odds of him ever being an average starter at first are low, low, low.
But look around the league at the players on any given roster. Just check out the Giants. Mark DeRosa hit .296/.351/.425 as a 26-year-old in his third season at AAA, just a tick over the league average. Jeff Keppinger was still in AAA (though hitting like some sort of robo-Jeff Keppinger). Andres Torres was already on his third organization.
Obviously, the difference is that Pill is (mostly) a first baseman. Fair enough. That hurts his chances of being even an average contributor. But the point is that baseball players take all sorts of weird developmental journeys. If Pill comes up and contributes for a few years, will that be the bizarre? Nah. Will they make a made-for-TV movie about him? Nah. It'd be unexpected, but not completely bizarre and unprecedented. And dang it, it would be cool if it happened. I'm pulling for it.
Also of note, his full name is Brett Michael Pill. Yep. "Poison" Pill. That counts for something.