So, Brandon Belt isn’t having a great season. You know it, I know it, and boy oh boy, do the KNBR callers know it.
It doesn’t help that Belt has struggled the most while playing in the confines of Oracle Park, in front of thousands of disapproving fans who remember the good times of actually good first basemen. You know, stalwarts such as JT Snow, Aubrey Huff, and, um…Brett Pill?
To be fair to the critics, Belt has been bad when donning the home colors. Like, really, really bad. Like, really, really, REALLY bad. In 64 games outside of San Francisco, Belt has produced like the player we all know and love (to hate): .254/.353/.461, 11 home runs, and an OPS of .814. But in 58 games at San Francisco, it’s like somebody has sapped Belt’s talents with a magical baseball in a nefarious attempt to enslave a bunch of iconic cartoon characters: .190/.324/.288, three home runs, and a paltry OPS of .612.
But for all the ballyhoo about Belt, he isn’t the only one stinking it up back home. As a team, the Giants sport a literal league-worst home OPS of .658. That’s 12 points behind the Miami Marlins. The Miami Marlins! You know it’s bad when Derek Jeter’s spare parts of a baseball team outperforms the Giants in any capacity.
Of course, as the sacrificial baby giraffe, Belt must bear the burden as the team scapegoat, but he’s not even the worst Giants hitter at home. Three players have fared more poorly: Evan Longoria, Donovan Solano, and Belt’s BFF, Brandon Crawford.
Solano’s numbers are probably a case of small sample size, but there’s a nearly 450 point swing in OPS between when he’s playing at home (.593 OPS) and away (1.034). Crawford is having a miserable season overall, and like Belt, the home vs. away splits is a big part of it. When playing in opposing parks, Crawford is hitting a respectable .254/.320/.433. At home, those numbers plummet to .200/.279/.270.
Longoria might be the strangest case, though. Away from Oracle Park, he’s hitting like an MVP, with a line of .301/.383/.583, 13 home runs, and an OPS of .966. In San Francisco, he hits like Kelby Tomlinson with the tiniest bit more pop: .215/.262/.343, three home runs, and an OPS of .605. Of course, the Giants’ home park is notorious for killing offensive numbers (unless your name is Nolan Arenado), but one would think Longoria as a right-handed batter wouldn’t feel the effects as much. And yet, to paraphrase the words of Charles Dickens, Longoria has been the best of hitters and the worst of hitters.
What’s the moral of the story here? I don’t know, move the fences in? Just kidding, just kidding. It’s not clear if there are any tangible takeaways other than the odd timing of having four starters scuffling in a very particular category at the same time. No doubt injuries have played into it—Belt has been dealing with a chirpy knee, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Crawford’s got a nagging something or other—but at least in the case of Belt, it really just seems to be bad luck, if this tweet is any indication:
Mookie entered tonight with 28 such outs (350+ and 90+), second only to Nolan Arenado. pic.twitter.com/maLvg6OWT0— Gary Marbry (@nuggetpalooza) August 17, 2019
There really is no place like home.