Brandon Belt Playing Himself Out Of San Francisco Giants' Big Picture?

By Thom Tsang
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, Brandon Belt, but there just aren’t enough witty #Belted hashtags that will keep you in the San Francisco Giants‘ good graces at this point.

And to be fair, both the franchise and its fan base have every reason to be frustrated with the gifted first baseman and former top prospect. After coming through with a minor breakout 1.7 fWAR season in 2012 that included a strong second half, Belt has been the embodiment of taking one step forward and two steps back in 2013.

Just when it looked like he would snap out of an early-season funk (.649 OPS in April) and really come to life for a second half push with a .869 OPS May and .802 in June, the All-Star break has all but sapped his progress.

With just one hit in his last 19 at-bats and hits in just four of the nine games he played since the baseball resumed, Belt is carrying a miserable .200/.273/.200 triple-slash since the Midsummer Classic. Even for a first baseman who doesn’t produce a whole lot of gaudy numbers as is, that total lack of offensive output (no runs, a lone RBI) since the break is simply unacceptable for any team, let alone the defending World Series champs.

That’s just a temporary title now, I suppose, as the last-place Giants are looking more and more unlikely to find the miracle needed to climb back into the NL West race with each game.

It’s not to say that Belt is at fault for that, of course, but even in the sixth spot (he’s since been relegated to eighth in the last couple of games), he represents an offensive black hole that gives the team no reprieve when folks like Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence aren’t at their best, and is a factor in the team’s miserable 14-run offense over the last seven days (heading into play on Tuesday).

Oh, and then there’s this:

There’s no dodging the fault on that one, I’m afraid. If there is a proverbial dagger to the heart of the Giants’ season, Belt may have delivered it.

And even if you were to forgive some of the early mismanagement on the part of Bruce Bochy setting him back, it would be easy to see why the Giants might be taking Belt’s name out of their future plans.

No, they might not have a whole lot of options in the farm to make that happen (and Buster Posey isn’t making that permanent move to first base anytime soon either); but for the plus-defender Belt, that kind of error over the weekend just about encapsulates his season, and in a way his journey with the Giants — the sort of thing that would motivate a team to look for options.

And though it’s unlikely that the team will part ways with the 25-year-old in 2013, you could probably say that that for the first time in a while, Belt’s time within the Giants organization is on notice.

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