Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNL WestSan Francisco Giants

Brandon Belt Is Having The Season That Seemed Impossible A Year Ago

Prior to the season, the San Francisco Giants’ offense seemed dull at best. They have shattered expectations by performing surprisingly well so far this season (as of 9/6 they are 6th in the league in runs scored), which is headlined by Mike Yastrzemski’s breakout campaign. As good as Yaz has been, I’m here to talk about his veteran teammate, Brandon Belt. Belt has always been a solid piece for the Giants, with the height of his production coming in 2016 when he put up an impressive slash line of .275/.394/.474 with 17 home runs. One thing that you’ll notice about his career stats is that he has never been much of a home run hitter, topping off at 18 during the 2015 season. That is at least partly due to Oracle park.

According to ESPN’s ballpark factor, prior to the 2020 season, Oracle park has always been at around the bottom of the league in home runs, but that changed this season. So far through the still small sample size, Oracle park is ranked 15th among all ballparks in home runs. Over the offseason, the Giants announced that they would be implementing a bullpen into the center-field wall, which brought the left-center field wall down to 399 feet (from 404), the center-field wall down to 391 feet (from 399 feet), and brought the right-center field wall down to 415 feet (from 421). While these changes may seem small in comparison to the overall distance of the walls, they have had significant changes in terms of home run production by Giants players, particularly Belt. For left-handed hitters like Brandon Belt, hitting home runs at Oracle park has been a challenge prior to this season. 

Now onto Brandon Belt’s production this season. In 110 PA this season, Brandon Belt has been on a tear, putting up an elite slash line of .340/.436/.681 and 7 HR. As for home/away splits, Belt has a slash line of .462/.588/.949 and 5 of his 7 HR in 51 PA at home. This is just the 2nd time since 2013 that Belt has hit more home runs at home than on the road, and a performance like this at home from him would’ve seemed improbable at best prior to the dimension changes. When you dig a little deeper into Belt’s stats this season, you’ll notice that Belt’s Pull% is down 2%, and his Straight% is up ~13% from 2019. This would suggest that the changes to “Triples Alley” are not having as significant of an effect on Belt’s production as it would’ve in previous seasons, but it is still having an effect.

          Belt is a player that I had always hoped would get traded at the deadline to a team with a ballpark with a more beneficial to him, so we could see his full potential of production. The numbers he’s put up this season are most likely not sustainable (.417 BABIP and 21.4% HR/FB), but it’s still great to see him finally thrive at a home stadium. Besides, this is a short season, so this hot stretch could last the whole season.

Owen Daley

Rookie writer for Max's Sporting Studio. Pirates fan, but nowadays I enjoy watching other teams