by Will Overton
The impact of Brandon Belt on the fantasy radar has been all over the place the last couple of years. In 2010 at 22 years old Belt was crushing his way through every level of the minor leagues and fantasy players could barely wait for him to crack the majors.
In 2011 Belt cracked the opening day roster of the Giants and ended up being mostly a disappointment. Belt managed some power in 2011 with 9 HR’s in 187 AB’s, but couldn’t reach base with any consistency sporting a .225 average and a .306 OBP.
Fast forward to 2012 where Belt entered the season as a sleeper pick, but not nearly with the same hype as he did last season. Belt has done enough to maintain a starting job for the Giants all season long and shown flashes of potential. But he hasn’t been hitting for nearly enough power hitting a HR once every 72 AB’s right now.
Right now Belt is hitting his peak for the season though and owners are faced with a choice on a guy who is owned in just 16% of leagues right now. Does Belt’s current hot streak warrant his being added in standard leagues despite the lack of power? Here are some of my thoughts on that question.
First of all let’s look at what has been happening here recently. Dating back to July 27th Belt is hitting .373 and in the month of August alone he has a .463 OBP. Unfortunately despite all the time Belt is spending on base the other numbers aren’t really keeping up. Belt has scored ten runs which isn’t a bad total, but he has just seven RBI and hasn’t hit a single homerun. In fact the last time Belt did hit a HR was June 23rd, almost two full months ago.
So at this point what is the appeal of having a guy who’s hitting for average and not doing much more? Because the potential is there and potential means a lot at this point in the season. Belt is only 24 years old and what he’s doing now could be just the beginning of what is to come for Brandon Belt.
Belt has power, in 2010 he hit a HR once every 21.4 AB’s, last year at the major league level he hit one every 20.8 AB’s. Those are not eye popping numbers, but they’re strong numbers and as he gets stronger with age those kinds of numbers should be going up, not regressing. The four HR’s he has right now say a lot, but history says a lot too and he’s still capable of reaching double digits in HR’s before the end of the season.
Belt is hitting a considerable amount more line drives than fly balls this year, raising his LD% to 23.3%. That’s 10% higher than last year. And with that his fly ball rate has dropped 5% as well. And his HR/FB rate is sitting at 4.9% which is an absurdly low rate for a guy like Belt to have. Belt is making more contact (10% K rate in August) and getting hits; as long as those things remain consistent Belt will turn things around in the power department.
The other thing I think plays into Belt’s favor may be the suspension of Melky Cabrera. The Giants have given Belt a chance to hit in the middle of the lineup at different times this season and he has struggled with that responsibility. But Cabrera’s departure leaves a gaping hole and Joaquin Arias and Marco Scutaro are the answers to that hole.
Belt is a different hitter now than he was earlier this season and if the Giants decide to make the right decision and give a hot hitting Brandon Belt another crack at the middle of the lineup it could be big for him. Somehow Belt is still being driven in despite the guys behind him, but he’s not getting enough RBI opportunities and his run scoring would only increase with a bump up in the lineup.
At this point there may be more productive options on the waiver wire in standard leagues, but I don’t know if there are higher upside options. Belt is 24 and nowhere near the peak of his production. He’s on fire right now in terms of getting on base, I believe everything else will pan out along with it. If you believe the same thing than roll with him.
Where are you at on Brandon Belt? Does he deserve a spot on your standard league fantasy team? Or is he still a deep league only guy? Let’s hear your take on things.