Brandon Belt, the home-grown product of the San Francisco Giants farm system, has been unstoppable this spring, batting for an average of nearly .450 and swatting balls over the outfield fences at a clip reserved for the all-time home run greats — his slugging percentage is nearly 1.000. But in yesterday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, Belt proved he means business and that his value as a player is greater than ever.
When Brandon stepped up during the third inning with two men on base, notes the official site of the San Francisco Giants, he had every right to be confident — his recent record warrants a little bit of swagger, especially with his 15 RBIs in his last seven games showing he can come through in the clutch.
“I feel great up there no matter who’s pitching. I feel dangerous every time I’m up there whether I get an out or not,” Belt told SF Gate.
“I feel if I can keep my approach consistent and keep everything else consistent, my play will stay consistent as well.”
Even Belt, however, could not have foreseen the game-changing result of the at-bat: another home run, racking up three RBIs, and establishing a commanding lead that would lead San Francisco to an 8-5 win.
Admittedly, points out San Francisco sports talk radio station KNBR, Brandon has shown himself to be a “spring training warrior” in the past by batting.350 during the preseason skirmishes, and his performance has always decreased once the actual season starts. In fact, his average batting line in April’s regular season games is a miserable .236/.296/.376.
Belt himself even acknowledged this fact, although not directly, in a statement.
“I’m keeping in mind that this is spring, and while I do feel good, a lot of stuff changes during the season.”
But yesterday was different, and it puts Belt’s past spring training performances in perspective.
First of all, Brandon Belt was facing off against Ian Kennedy, a veteran pitcher on a team that is coming off a world series win.
Secondly, the daytime performance only bolstered a Spring that has outshined even Belt’s most exceptional past preseason campaigns.
If 2016 is indeed different for Belt and he can carry over his tremendous behind-the-plate statistics into the San Francisco Giant’s 2016 season, it will significantly increase his chances of netting a huge pay raise in the contract extension the team is currently mulling over.
“I think that we’re well aware of how much Belt has contributed and how much he has meant to us both offensively and defensively,” stated San Francisco Giants general manager Bobby Evans.
“We have a fan base here that appreciates him and a club he fits well on, and he’s been a big part of our success.”
Brandon agrees with Evans that his status as a born and raised San Francisco Giants player may increase his bias towards the team during contract talks, but Belt also makes it clear that he is a pragmatist and will not be persuaded into a bum deal by team pride.
“You know, I’ve been here my entire career, so there’s definitely a side where I want to be here. But it’s all going to come down to what’s fair. And, you know, I hate to say it like that, but that’s the reality.”
Just how many options Brandon Belt will have, as well as how high a figure the giants will offer him, will be determined beginning with the San Francisco Giants’ first 2016 game, which will take place in Milwaukee against the Brewers on April 4.
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]