The San Francisco Giants are expected to be without up-and-coming first baseman Brandon Belt for at least six weeks after he suffered a broken thumb on his left hand in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Belt’s injury will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the Giants’ everyday lineup, but it won’t be season-crippling. At the moment, Belt has the fourth most home runs in all of baseball (nine). Even though he’s struggled to register consistent production at the plate, his power presence will be missed.
Belt’s numbers have tailed off as of late, despite his home run total. The 26-year-old slugger owns an inefficient .317 on-base percentage in 139 plate appearances. Aside from blasting home runs, Belt has mostly struggled to drive-in runs. He’s racked up 18 RBIs on the season, most of which have been a product of the long ball. For the Giants to survive Belt’s injury, they need efficiency from supposed replacement Joaquin Arias, who has not performed well in limited action this season.
Arias owns a dismal .173 batting average in 52 official at-bats this season. Arias’ ability, of lack thereof, to produce at the bottom of the Giants’ lineup will play a big part in determining whether they’re able to place a grapple on first place in the NL West. San Francisco currently boasts the best record in the National League (23-13), but hasn’t sustained a high level of run production over the course of the first six weeks of the season. The Giants average a respectable 4.2 runs per game, but rank 24th in team batting average (.238) and 22nd in on-base percentage (.309).
Belt’s .820 OPS is the fourth-best mark among Giants’ everyday players. Arias won’t be able to duplicate the type of success Belt was able to mount at the dish, but he’s capable of mitigating a glaring absence in the Giants’ lineup. Arias posted a .271 batting average in 2013, driving in 19 runs over 225 at-bats. He doesn’t flaunt a ton of pop (one home run in 2013), but offers value as a solid defensive player who excels in situational at-bats.
San Francisco currently ranks third in the big leagues with 44 home runs. That number figures to take a dive in the wake of Belt’s injury. The Giants are a team mostly reliant on stellar starting pitching and shutdown bullpen efforts, in spite of their early success at the plate. Even though Belt’s injury shortens the Giants’ lineup, they should be able to sustain a high level of production.