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Brandon Belt is already very good, and I can’t believe I have to point this out

No one brings out the weirdos like Brandon Belt. No one.

San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Over at Sports Illustrated, someone took the time to round up a collection of quotes about every team from anonymous scouts. It was a good idea, and I enjoyed reading it. However, they also sent the initial email to Very Bad Scout, who is bad at his job.

Here is what Very Bad Scout said about Brandon Belt:

Brandon Belt is going to have to step up his game. This is a guy they gave $79 million based on what they expected him to do in the future—well, the future is now....

Brandon Belt finished fifth in the National League in on-base percentage.

Forget about everything else you know about Belt. Forget about park effects, and how AT&T Park is crueler to him than any home park is to anyone in baseball. Forget that you have to look at Belt’s numbers within the context of his era and his home park.

He finished fifth in the National League in on-base percentage. Literally fifth. Which is better than sixth, which is also where someone with a good on-base percentage is. He was one point ahead of Miguel Cabrera last season.

If Belt gets off to a slow start, don't be surprised if Buster Posey gets a little more time at first.

NOT NOW, VERY BAD SCOUT. Belt had 41 doubles to go along with that OBP, making the All-Star Game for the first time, and nearly doubling his walks from the previous season. According to FanGraphs, the Giants have the sixth-best first base arrangement in baseball. That would be behind Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera, and Freddie Freeman. I will agree that Belt is not as good as those players. I also agree that Belt is better than the players below him on that list.

Brandon Belt is going to have to step up his game.

Oh, Very Bad Scout. You are the very-badiest.

The biggest problem with evaluating Belt properly is that you absolutely have to include park effects. Look at this:

Now, those triples count in Brandon Belt’s slugging percentage. They already help his overall value, what with the WAR and whatnot that the kids are using these days. But you can see how perception would change if he were a 25- or, gasp, 30-homer kind of player in a different park.

Which is to say that perception won’t change. He’s here for a few years. AT&T Park is one of the biggest pitcher’s parks in baseball history, and nothing will be different until the ice caps melt and the wind starts blowing out at 30 mph. So, next year, then. Until then, the Giants will have to be satisfied with a hitter who plays good defense, runs the bases better than he gets credit for, has a little power, and is literally one of the best players in baseball at avoiding outs and sustaining rallies. That’s before you account for park effects, again.

Belt is going to be 29 this year, so he’s probably a finished project. There is probably no “step up his game” left. If the Giants are lucky, they’ll get three or four more years of what he did last year. They would be absolutely ecstatic to get three or four more years of that. It would make his contract a steal.

This is the year that we finally get to be happy with what Brandon Belt is, not what he could be.

Don’t get me wrong. I was already happy with what he was, but I didn’t predict a top-five finish in OBP. Here’s what I projected last year:

Brandon Belt, projected 2016
AB: 554
HR: 24
AVG: .289
OBP: .366
SLG .497
SB: 11
CS: 5

And here’s what he did:

Brandon Belt, actual 2016
AB: 542
HR: 17
AVG: .275
OBP: .394
SLG .474
SB: 0
CS: 4

Uh, maybe just stick around the bag after you get on base until we can get this sorted out, Brandon.

Belt was the player he was supposed to be, just with a bunch more walks. Here’s where I screwed up:

Okay, that's basically the same player, just a little more of it. And we will be in love with it.

No, it will still be something to nitpick. He will still be a weirdo klaxon that brings them out of the hills. Listen, I saw him strike out once in a big spot, you have to believe me.

Look at me. Brandon Belt is already good.

Brandon Belt is already good.

Brandon Belt is already good.

Brandon Belt is already good.

Brandon Belt is already good.

Brandon Belt is already good. He’s actually very good. The reason he’s not talked about in the same breath as Rizzo, Cabrera, Freeman, and Goldschmidt is because of AT&T Park. I’m absolutely convinced of this, and when those guys come to town, they’re dealing with the same ballpark, and the Giants have someone who can at least hold his own.

If you’re expecting the Giants to be good in 2017, one of the reasons should be Brandon Belt being good at his job. The Belt Wars will never die, but at least we can ignore them with a steady hand now. Let the weirdos be weird. We have baseball to watch.

Brandon Belt, projected 2017
AB: 534
HR: 19
AVG: .277
OBP: .386
SLG .469
SB: 2
CS: 3
WAR: 4.8

Same as last year more or less. Which would be an indisputably good thing for the ol’ San Francisco Giants.