The San Francisco Giants‘ never-ending power drought following the post-Bonds era has finally come to a screeching stop. The Giants are tied with the Chicago White Sox for the most home runs in baseball during early action. While it remains relatively unlikely for San Francisco to lead MLB in that department throughout the entirety of the season, it’s becoming increasingly apparent the Giants now flaunt a lineup that strikes fear into opposing pitchers.
Five of the Giants’ 12 home runs have come off the bat of ascending first baseman Brandon Belt, who is flashing early signs of what could be a career-defining season for the former fifth-round pick in the first-year player draft. Belt is off to a torrid start for the Giants, who rank third in both runs-driven-in and runs scored so far in the 2014 season. Although the season has yet to breach mid-April, it looks as though the Giants’ offense is for real, in part because of Belt’s emergence as a premier power threat.
The Giants handed Belt a one-year, $2.9 million contract to avoid arbitration over the offseason. It was Belt’s first year of arbitration eligibility, courtesy of inherent Super Two status. Rumors had swirled across Giants’ blogs and forums before Spring Training in regard to Belt possibly earning a multi-year deal similar to what other franchise-caliber first basemen have already earned, such as Chicago Cubs‘ Anthony Rizzo, who inked a seven-year, $41 deal before the 2013 season. Rizzo was also a Super Two player.
Belt’s gigantic payday will come soon enough; that is assuming the Giants don’t somehow plummet and use their newly established star player as trade bait to replenish their middling farm system, which seemed like the most logical reason as to why the team opted to forgo signing him to a big contract prior to this season. Ongoing, now tabled, negotiations with third baseman Pablo Sandoval also could have played a factor. The Giants seemingly don’t want to over-commit big money to future payroll, but don’t have much of a choice if Belt continues to romp big league pitching at his current pace.
Belt is currently tied with Mark Trumbo for the most home runs in baseball (5). He also leads all first basemen with nine runs scored. At the moment, Belt is on pace to eclipse the 100-home run barrier, an unfathomable feat that surely won’t ever be accomplished in the modern era of baseball. But that figure demonstrates the type of torrid pace Belt has established. He’s setting the standard for big league first basemen while also helping fuel his team to the best early season record in baseball (6-2).
The Giants’ lineup is no longer a joke. They’re deep, featuring players fully capable of taking opposing pitchers yard. Belt is the new poster boy for not just the Giants, but all first baseman around the league.