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Brandon Belt’s June was exceptionally bizarre

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More walks than hits or strikeouts made for the strangest month of Belt’s career.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

June 2019 certainly was a month.

For the San Francisco Giants, it was a relatively decent month, as they went 14-13, for a rare journey above .500. For me, it was just kind of another month, relatively uneventful. For Brandon Belt, it was an odd month.

I apologize if you’re getting tired of me using the word “odd.” I’ve used it to describe Kevin Pillar, perhaps multiple times. I’ve used it to describe the Giants performance, and Pablo Sandoval. I’ve used it a lot.

This is an odd team, except for when they’re being so normal that it’s bland, which is a lot of the time.

Anyway, this article is emphatically not about the oddness, or lack thereof of the 2019 Giants, or even the June 2019 Giants. It’s about the oddness of June 2019 Brandon Belt.

Here’s Belt’s final tally for June: 106 plate appearances, 17 hits, 4 doubles, 2 home runs, 24 walks, 17 strikeouts.

Wow.

Let’s take this one step at a time. Belt struggled to hit the ball. 17 hits in 106 plate appearances is good for an average of just .213. Not good at all, but also not that bizarre for a one month sample size. The BABIP gods and goddesses giveth and the BABIP gods and goddesses taketh away.

It’s the four doubles and two home runs that really stand out. Six total extra-base hits, in a month where Belt started 24 games. Not good for anyone, let alone a first baseman.

In Belt’s nine-year career, he’s only had six or fewer extra-base hits in 90 or more plate appearances two other times: July 2016, when he had five extra-base hits in 105 plate appearances, and March/April 2013, when he had six such hits in 94 plate appearances.

So this is out of the ordinary for Belt. His slugging percentage in June was a mere .338, a number that snuggles up between Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford’s season averages. In other words, Belt’s June power was right in line with two players who play the least powerful offensive positions in baseball and are having serious down years at that.

If I end the article here I can just control-F this document, search for the term “odd,” and replace it with “bad,” or some stronger synonym.

But I’m not ending the article here, because Belt’s June wasn’t bad. It was odd.

Look at the next numbers in the stat line: 24 walks, 17 strikeouts.

Belt - who has one of the best eyes and some of the greatest plate discipline in baseball - drew 24 walks, which is considerably more than he’s ever drawn in a month.

In June, Belt earned a free pass to first base once every 4.42 plate appearances.

From June 1, 2018 until the end of the season, Belt walked once every 11 plate appearances, and 21 times total.

He walked three more times in June of this year than in June, July, August, September, and October of last year (admittedly an injury-shortened sample). And he did it while striking out just 17 times.

It was one of the worst months that Belt has had as a Major Leaguer in terms of hitting the baseball, but it was the best month that Belt has had as a Major Leaguer in terms of watching the baseball, exhibiting discipline, and displaying that eagle eye of his.

So yes, it was odd.

It was also encouraging. If you watched Belt play, you could tell he wasn’t quite right. He’s clearly dealing with some discomfort - not quite enough to land him on the IL, given the state of the team, but enough to impact his game.

He isn’t running right, and I would imagine that means he isn’t swinging right. I don’t mean to find happiness in Belt’s discomfort, but it’s nice that the .213 batting average and .125 ISO have a fairly easy explanation.

The 24:17 walk-to-strikeout ratio has less of an easy explanation, other than “Belt is having better at-bats than ever before.” I’ll take that easy explanation, thank you very much.

The All-Star break is right around the corner, and hopefully Belt can use that to heal up. He’s already showing signs of coming around with the bat - in just 16 July plate appearances, he already has 41% as many hits as he had in all of June.

If the body heals up and the bat follows suit, Belt could turn an odd June into an exceptional July.