It's been a month since Brandon Belt went on the DL with a broken hand. It's been a long, bleak month, in which the Giants have gone 19-8 and shot to the top of the National League West. Okay, the games have been good, but we don't argue nearly as much around here. Who are the hot-button players? Hector Sanchez? So boring. Except for the wins.
That means it's probably a good time to see what the Giants have gotten from the players who have replaced Belt in the lineup. With Michael Morse moving to first, the Giants have turned to a cavalcade of players in the outfield, including Tyler Colvin, Gregor Blanco, and Juan Perez. How have they done?
Note: There's no perfect way to do this. There are games when the Giants used a Sanchez/Posey/Morse configuration, which is something they would occasionally do with a healthy Belt. The only way to do it is by assuming that Morse and Posey were going to be in the lineup, regardless of Belt's presence, and include every game from Belt's ostensible replacement. There's also no adjustment when Bochy would do something that he (probably) wouldn't do with Belt, like pinch-hit for him in the late innings.That means the numbers are imperfect, but close enough.
McCovey Chronicles: Imperfect, but close enough.
Usually. Here are the games in question, with the ostensible replacement's line:
That's good for a .264/.281/.464 line. The OBP isn't so hot, but the slugging percentage isn't so bad at all. That's good for a .745 OPS, which is under the league average for a first baseman, over the league average for a left fielder, and well over the league average for all hitters (.701). Factoring in the ballpark, the Giants have filled Brandon Belt's spot with at least average production.
This is yet another way the Giants have been fortunate. Don't use the word "lucky" if you don't want to, but it didn't have to work out this way. The Giants could have had, oh, Mark Kotsay close by, and he could have hit .140/.150/.150. There's no apparent rhyme or reason to how benches succeed or fail -- they're like bullpens in that regard -- and there's no guaranteed way to prevent 110 at-bats of the worst hitting you've ever watched. Even as Colvin has returned to Earth, he's still been a net positive for this team. Part of that is getting the right players (Blanco is a good fourth outfielder; Colvin seems to be one, too), but part of it is just the right player at the right time.
The Giants haven't had a perfect season. Marco Scutaro's still out, Belt's still not expected back for a month or so, and both Matt Cain and Tim Hudson have missed time with injuries. Still, when the worst injury of the year happened, the Giants were still able to get decent production from hitters who could have gone either way.
Now, hurry back, Belt. I miss the dingers. I miss the arguments.