Get the obvious out of the way: Brandon Belt’s next 60 or 70 years are immeasurably more important than his next three weeks. I’m rooting for Belt’s brain first, and his baseball career second. The NBC Sports Bay Area headline this is all based on is “Still feeling concussion symptoms, Brandon Belt discusses his future,” and that’s what the focus should be. The long-term future is what’s important, here.
But Belt is almost certainly out for the year, according to Alex Pavlovic. The dream of 20 homers is dead. Also, the Giants need to have a dream for 20 homers because Giants baseball is permanently stuck in 1901. It was fun watching Belt, who was in the middle of a nice, productive month, chase some personal milestones, and we likely won’t get to watch him anymore.
For Belt’s part, his concern isn’t radiating through the computer screen.
“It’s not like I’m repeatedly banging my head against something,” Belt said. “If that was the case, it might affect me more in the long term. This is more sporadic and the hits aren’t too terrible. Once I get over these concussions, they tell me that I won’t have to worry about them anymore.”
There is no upside to Belt playing again this season, though. The numbers are meaningless. The fun factor is meaningless. The rest isn’t meaningless. The calculations all check out, and if Belt is still having vision problems related to a concussion on September 7, he probably shouldn’t risk more than he absolutely needs to. And there is no “needs to” for the 2017 Giants.
I suppose there should be ground rules for Belt’s future.
Yes, it’s okay to be concerned with Belt’s future in baseball. While the disclaimer is always going to be that his health is more important, it’s only natural to then segue into what this means for the Giants. Don’t feel guilty. It’s not like he hasn’t thought about it.
No, it’s not okay to call Belt “injury prone” because he keeps getting hit with baseballs. There are hitters who are more prone to getting hit because of their batting style, which is why Carlos Quentin is probably getting hit by a pitch in the Mexican League right now, while Mark Lemke made it through his entire career without getting hit. But there isn’t a player who is empirically more likely to get hit in the head. And don’t forget that one of Belt’s concussions came from a throw during infield practice, and another one came from a knee to the head.
No, Belt isn’t malingering, and any Giants fans who are mad at him are officially excommunicated. Yeah, that’s right, I’ve appointed myself the Giants Pope, and I have all sorts of powers. This is one of them. Go away. You’re a Padres fan now. Go. Shoo.
Yes, Belt is going to come back next year and hit 25 home runs and 40 doubles with an on-base percentage over .375, if only because I said so.
These are simple, effective things to remember. It looks like we’re not going to see Belt again in 2017, though. Considering what the season has already brought us, that’s probably for the best, even if it’s more than a little discouraging.