All-Star first baseman Brandon Belt. It has a musical quality to it, and you should mumble it under your breath, unless you’re on public transportation, in which case you should yell it. Belt, with 10.4 million votes, is going to his first All-Star Game.
Good work, internet.
Belt is certainly a deserving All-Star by any metric, but he played a tough position with three other qualified candidates, so it was understandable that he was left off the roster the first time, even if we reserved our rights as fans to complain. Still, there’s something about a left-handed hitter putting up a .300/.400/.500 line for a first-place team in a pitcher’s park, especially when he isn’t surrounded by other .900 OPS-types. He’s carried the Giants’ lineup for long, long stretches, and this feels like the appropriate award.
Belt is leading the National League in doubles, with 27, and he’s also seven walks away from his career high. His improving patience and power seem to be a feedback loop, with the improved eye leading to better pitches to hit, and the better pitches to hit leading to more doubles and homers. My only regret is that he isn’t in the Home Run Derby, flailing those big giraffe sticks around, amusing the entire continent.
The Giants have had Final Vote candidates before, with Benito Santiago in 2003, Aaron Rowand in 2008, Pablo Sandoval in 2009, and Hunter Pence in 2013, but Belt is the first winner. The odds were at least decent that he would have made the game as an injury replacement, but we don’t have to wait ghoulishly for that now. We can focus our attention to being mad that Brandon Crawford isn’t in.
Your job today is to think about the position the Giants would have been in if they hadn’t signed Belt to a long-term before the season. This is the kind of season I was happy-terrified about before the extension because it would have boosted Belt’s salary into the nine-figure territory. As is, he’s happy, the Giants are happy, and everyone in the infield is sticking around through 2021.
Your turn, Matt Duffy. You’re the only infielder without that shiny All-Star banner on your Baseball-Reference page. No pressure. But if you could hit .400 in the first half next year, I think we’d all be for that.
Congratulations to Brandon Belt, National League All-Star. Has a ring to it, it does.