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The Giants don’t like Brandon Belt’s approach

Mar 27, 2012, 6:21 PM EDT

Brandon Belt Getty Images

Sure, the Giants had the NL’s worst offense last year. Sure, they develop major league hitters at a rate of about two a decade. Sure, their hitting coach was one of the biggest prospect flops of the 1980s.

But when you have the chance to overhaul the swing of a top prospect hitting .380, you just gotta take it.

The Giants are considering sending Brandon Belt down to start the season in part because they don’t like his mechanics at the plate,’s Andrew Baggarly reports.

“He’s way out in front of the batter’s box,” hitting coach Hensley Meulens said.“It works for him, but want to make sure he’s getting the bat head out on those pitches middle-in and not just trying to flare it to left-center. We’re on the back field using drills so he can create that feel. When his elbow goes out, the barrel actually flattens and it takes a longer time to get the bat out in front.

“He’s had success in this camp, but … the pitching is different here. We all know that. We see a lot of minor league guys pitching in these games. It’s not to take anything away from him, but there’s still some things that we’re trying to refine so he’ll have success at the big league level.”

My take: Meulens probably has a point. Belt doesn’t have an ideal swing, and I don’t really see him becoming a star in the majors. That said, it’s certainly worked for him so far. He didn’t excel as a rookie, but he did have a 101 OPS+ in his 187 at-bats last season, even though he was never given consistent starts. He’s also been one of the team’s best hitters with a 1.089 OPS this spring. He certainly appears to me to be a better bet than Aubrey Huff or Brett Pill for this year unless the Giants totally screw him up. Sending him down would be a bad, bad call.

  1. Baseball Beer Burritos In That Order - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    Last year Brandon Belt took 187 AB and hit .225/.306/.412
    In Meulen’s only season with more than 100 AB (1991) he hit .222/.276/.319

    I once threw a perfect game through 4 innings in high school, think I could be the Giants’ pitching coach?

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:49 PM

      If I could give you a +1,000,000 for your name I would.

  2. jonirocit - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    I don’t think he will be a star? Based on what? Look at his stats ! Would he have looked like a star if they had not rushed him up last year and stayed in the minors and hit .350 ? The kid is going to be really good . I just hope bam bam err dink dink don’t screw him up

  3. hushbrother - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    “Hey, we won the World Series two years ago. Clearly we know what we’re doing.”

  4. jason1214 - Mar 27, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Just keep Timmy token, and Cain dealin. Then again I think Scherholz starting is a joke

  5. paperlions - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    Belt hasn’t found a level of baseball where he couldn’t crush the ball when given regular playing time….there is NO reason to mess with his swing until he proves it can’t work at the majors. This is a perfect example of a coach that doesn’t have enough to do that is making work for himself to justify his position.

    • tacklemeelmo - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      A coach that doesn’t have enough to do? He’s the hitting coach of the Giants… He needs a time machine to keep up with the work that needs to be done.

  6. jimbo1949 - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    “He’s had success in this camp, but … the pitching is different here. We all know that. We see a lot of minor league guys pitching in these games.”
    That’s why the rest of the team is hitting so much better than he is?

    • seeingwhatsticks - Mar 28, 2012 at 2:58 AM

      That statement is so much of what’s wrong with the Giants. Not that spring stats mean a damn thing, but they will use that line to defend sending Belt and Hector Sanchez down and giving Huff and Pagan 140 starts each. Then they will say that the spring stats show that Pill and Arias and Burriss have earned roster spots. So which is it guys, do the spring stats mean something or not? Or is just that you do what you want to do while ignoring all evidence that doesn’t support you?

  7. stex52 - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    I think I would give him time to prove he can’t do it before I messed with him. A good batting coach will know when he needs help. Of course, that might be the problem here.

  8. rooney24 - Mar 28, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Reminds me of when the Twins gave up on David Ortiz because he didn’t/couldn’t fit their philosophy at the time of hitting the ball the other way instead of pulling it and driving it. If a hitter hits well in the minors, give them more than a handful of games, to hit their way, with consistent playing time, before trying to “fix” them.

  9. Gamera the Brave - Mar 28, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    Sadly, it appears that my Gigantes won’t rest until they have destroyed Belt utterly…

  10. nolasoxfan2012 - Mar 28, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Last year, the Giants gave 521 at-bats to a first baseman with 12 homers and a .306 OBP. They could have gotten much more from many teams’ AAAA guys, let alone a possible star like Belt.

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