In last night's recap, buried at the end, there was a note about the unusual opposite-field power from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. It probably deserves its own space, with some fancy charts. I don't know what's going on, but it's working.
Brandon Belt was a pull-hitter when he came up. If he hit a ball to the left side, it was probably because he screwed up somehow, and in the era of defensive shifts, he was a likely target. Teams started shifting on him at every opportunity.
This annoyed him. How much? Enough to do this in the danged World Series:
Wheeeeee! I don't know if he is really annoyed by shifts, but I used that as an excuse to put that video in.
Do you know what's even better than bunting against the shift? Hitting against the shift. Here's what Belt was doing in 2014, via FanGraphs:
And here he is in 2015:
The shifts are still effective against him, at least partially, because if he hits the ball on the ground, it's to the right side. Still, this gives us a nice look at how Belt is driving the ball -- with power -- to the opposite side.
It's not quite as drastic with Crawford, but the balls are going over the fence more. Here's his 2014:
And this season:
The balls going over the fence are more a function of hitting them in the right parks at the right time. Or, rather, not hitting them in the wrong parks at the wrong time. He had similar balls last year, but they went for doubles. Still, he's come close to his total for opposite-field hits from last year, and there are almost two more months left.
The next time they both slump, of course, the #FireHensley brigade will make a valiant charge, but for now it's okay to note that the Brandons might be evolving. This might not be Belt's ceiling after all. And if this isn't Crawford's ceiling, start melting down some of the other statues to make room for his.