There’s no way to properly summarize the 2013 season of San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt other than to say there were lots of ups and downs.
After coming through late last season during the Giants’ World Series run, many believed that this would be the year that the former top prospect broke out for good. He did plenty to reaffirm those beliefs during spring training as he hit .410 with eight home runs over 78 at-bats.
Unfortunately, Belt caught a bad case of the stomach flu as the regular season began, and in-between a few missed games, he started the year going two for his first 22.
Belt steadily was able to get his average up, rallying from a strong month of June to head into July with a .263 average and eight homers. Unfortunately, Belt had one of his trademark deathly slumps during July with a .225 average, but most notably committing a major defensive mistake which cost the Giants a victory over the Chicago Cubs that was one of the defining moments of the season as the Giants fell out of contention.
By the end of the month, when the Giants called up first baseman Brett Pill, it looked like Belt was in serious jeopardy of losing his starting job.
Luckily, though, the 25-year-old rallied over the final two months and was able to restore his reputation. He hit .346 with seven homers and 28 RBIs while continuing to display his traditional knack for getting on base. Most importantly though, Belt was able to show that he can be a consistent and clutch hitter for a prolonged period.
Seeing as his .289 average, 17 homers, and 67 RBIs were all career-highs, Belt deserves an “A-” grade for his 2013 performance. With his end-of-the-season showing, Belt has firmly entrenched himself into the Giants’ plans for 2014.
Exactly where he fits in is the bigger question. As rumors circulated that the Giants were in pursuit of Cuban slugger Jose Abreu, a move to the outfield for Belt was discussed. Now that Abreu has signed with the Chicago White Sox, that type of position switch seems less likely, but it’s still a possibility that Belt will play some left field next year, since Buster Posey is likely to get more time at first base.
No matter what happens, Belt needs to prove that the end to his 2013 season wasn’t a fluke, and that he can be a starter for years to come.