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Brett Pill: Organizational Statement of Intent

Well, let's just lookee and see what the Giants are thinking these days, via Extra Baggs:

Bochy went with Brett Pill instead of Belt against Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders for one reason, and it had nothing to do with righty-lefty matchups:

Pill drives the ball.

Brett Pill has a .328 career minor-league on-base percentage.

Belt’s average is much nicer on the scoreboard. But he hasn’t hit a home run, two of his five doubles have been bloop jobs and he’s driven in six runs all season.

Brandon Belt has a .457 career minor-league on-base percentage.

This is what the Giants are talking about when they mention moving Belt back in the box and standing him up taller. They want him to be in position to drive the fastball. They want him to do damage, not just get his hits.

I can see this. I'd like to see him drive the ball more too.

They want Belt to make the transition that Pill did as a minor leaguer.

Brett Pill is 27 -- the same age as Melky Cabrera and Nate Schierholtz. He is not a minor-league success story. He is a late-bloomer, and that depends on your definition of "bloomer."

Pill worked with Steve Decker, now the Giants’ organizational hitting coordinator, and hit 19 homers the following year at Double-A Connecticut. He hit 25 at Triple-A Fresno last season. And he’s punishing mistakes now.

Brett Pill has a .294 OBP this year. He had a .341 OBP in the PCL last year, where the league OBP was .359. He's essentially having Pedro Feliz's 2003 season or Lance Niekro's 2005 season. Which ... okay, that's nothing to get that upset about from a backup first basemen. But it is nothing that you want your one of your top young players to emulate.

"Steve Decker said, `You’ll make it by getting the barrel out there and hitting it out of the park,’" Pill said. "That’s when I started being a better player in the minor leagues, I guess. It’s when I started believing that’s the kind of hitter I was – a power hitter."

The Giants are still leading MLB in swings at pitches out of the strike zone, swings inside the strike zone, and total swings. They are the least patient team again, the fourth year in a row.

Brett Pill has swung at 45.8 percent of the balls thrown out of the strike zone this year. That's the second-worst mark on the team. All that's between him and the worst mark is Barry Zito. Pill had two home runs on first-pitch fastballs down the middle during this last road trip. That's great; that's what he's supposed to do with them. But what happens when they stop coming? When the league adjusts to him, what happens then?

That’s the kind of hitter Bochy wanted in his lineup Sunday, and Pill hit a two-run homer. Maybe more thought goes into those lineups than simply shaking the cup.

The Giants are hoping Brandon Belt can be more like Brett Pill.

2005: .319 on-base percentage (29th)
2006: .324 on-base percentage (28th)
2007: .322 on-base percentage (28th)
2008: .321 on-base percentage (25th)
2009: .309 on-base percentage (30th)
2010: .321 on-base percentage (22nd)
2011: .303 on-base percentage (29th)

Boy, oh, boy ... now that guy has the right approach.

Year Rank (out of 30)
Percent of swings on pitches
out of the strike zone
2008 28 28.0%
2009 30 31.2%
2010 30 32.3%
2011 30 33.5%
2012 30 33.7%

I'm hoping Brett Pill can have a nice, complementary, Ron Coomer-type career. Players develop late all the time -- just because a 27-year-old had a rough start in the minors doesn't mean he'll never be useful. He's certainly had his moments in his brief trial.

But if you want some context for those numbers up there, just keep muttering: "The Giants want Brandon Belt to be a little more like Brett Pill. The Giants want Brandon Belt to be a little more like Brett Pill. The Giants want Brandon Belt to be a little more like Brett Pill." Then look at those yearly OBP numbers. Look at the swings out of the strike zone every year. How does such a thing happen?

The Giants want Brandon Belt to be a little more like Brett Pill. And the beliefs driving that desire are the beliefs that guide their every move. It's how they evaluate hitters. That's how those numbers happen, even when the roster turns over completely.

The Giants want Brandon Belt to be a little more like Brett Pill. Oh.