Finally, Brandon Belt has been freed.
San Francisco Giants fans have been clamoring for the 24-year-old first baseman to play every day since the minute he was called up last season. Manager Bruce Bochy continued to play veteran Aubrey Huff and even rookie Brett Pill over Belt, driving the fan base into a frenzy earlier this season.
In Bochy’s defense, Belt hasn’t exactly taken advantage of the opportunities he received, but now it’s almost as if divine intervention has forced Belt into the everyday first base job. Pill fell into a slump and was demoted to Triple-A earlier this month and Huff injured his knee while celebrating Matt Cain’s perfect game last Thursday.
For the first time, Belt is free to play without having to worry if a mistake or a bad day will land him on the bench the next night. He is settling in and finally looking comfortable in the major leagues.
It’s amazing what consistent playing time can do for a young player.
Belt carried a seven-game hitting streak into tonight’s game and homered in three-straight games last week. So far this month, he is hitting .342 with a 1.116 OPS and has drawn nine walks while striking out just seven times in 48 plate appearances.
Last season, Belt hit just .225 with a .718 OPS, nine home runs and 18 RBI in 63 games. He got off to a rough start this season, but his recent hot streak has boosted his numbers to respectability. On the season, Belt is hitting .261 with an .806 OPS.
The Giants could use all the help they can get, as they trail the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have baseball’s best record, in the National League West. San Francisco is 38-30 on the year, but ranks 22nd in runs scored.