Is Brandon Belt Due for a Breakout?

A few weeks back I talked about how I wasn’t huge on Eric Hosmer this year, with one of the bigger reasons being Brandon Belt’s draft spot. To me, while he is a slightly poor man’s version, Belt provides much higher upside with much lower downside. I drafted him two leagues this season, one as a UTIL option behind Jose Abreu and one as the primary 1B with Matt Adams as my primary backup. While I have confidence in him this season, I do think it would be a bit aggressive to own only him as a first base option in a standard format.

Belt played exactly 150 games last season and only one third of those games did he bat in the top third of the order. He hit third 48 times and appeared as a pinch hitter in the leadoff spot and second twice. One of the issues Belt had last year was a lack of run production, which is one of the big driving forces behind production at first base. He had just 76 runs and 67 RBI, which isn’t nothing but certainly isn’t up to par with the top tier first basemen.

This year, Belt appeared in the two hole to start the year, a spot that I think could not be more ideal. Belt’s put together consecutive .360 OBP seasons and if he is going to hit second this year he is a very good bet for 90+ runs, plus he will get more plate appearances which will give him the ability to up his home run total too.
Speaking of which, he hit 39 doubles last year and a .193 ISO. As he enters his age 26 season, it is reasonable to expect some of those doubles to transition into home runs. While ZiPS and Steamer have him at 15 and 16 respectively, I’m thinking he’s a 20 home run or more guy if he gets 600 plate appearances. We saw his power develop a bit last year, and I think that trend continues this season.

The next issue to tackle is his speed. Two years ago he stole 12 bases, making many of us to believe he could be a surprising source of steals with a full season worth of plate appearances. Unfortunately, he stole just five bags in seven chances last season. But again, if the plan is to hit him second this year there is great potential for that number to jump back up to at or near double digits.

I don’t think a “breakout” to the tune of 30 home runs and 15 steals is in order, but I think an average hovering between .280-.300 and 23 home runs with 10 steals is certainly reasonable. Combine that with run totals approaching 100 and an RBI number that should remain decent for a second hitter, and you will have a guy you were happy to have drafted way back in March.

Print This Post

Ben Duronio writes for Capitol Avenue Club, FanGraphs, and does the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Follow Ben on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

12 Responses to “Is Brandon Belt Due for a Breakout?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. chri521 says:

    Agree totally and banking on this also. Saw him turn on a pitch last night for a HR that he would have fouled off or popped up early last year. Good pass of the eye-test too for his rebound after K’ing his first 2 trips up.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Kogoruhn says:

    Pretty sure he’s only hitting 2nd until Marco Scutaro is off the DL.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andrew says:

      I believe he’s going to bat 3rd when Scutaro returns.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • TheBeltMelt says:

        Depending on how long Scutaro can stay on the field. The giants are very stingy when it comes to Injury details we saw this with Freddy Sanchez. Other huge factor hindering belts production is that spacious triples alley, where bombs go to die. Bochy loves belt and will continue to hit him high in the order regardless of whether or not Scutaro is healthy. 2nd or 3rd is very ideal for Belt.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bill says:

        Bochy does not love Belt and has tried to replace him numerous times over the last few years. He has ended up in Bochy’s dog house a lot and it usually doesn’t take much to get there( three 0 for 4s will do the trick).
        Posey’s 100+ at bats while playing 1B will eat into his playing time. Arias andMorse will steal another 60+ at bats. Belt will be lucky to get 500 at bats. I say Hosmer easily out does him.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Michael says:

    You can’t throw out last years run production without mentioning the struggling line-up last year around him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Alex says:

    I couldn’t be more happy that he’s hitting 2nd. Just got him off the waiver wire in my league (yes, someone dropped him… for Joe Kelly).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Stan Gable says:

      Nothing wrong with Kelly.

      Assuming it’s a small to moderate sized mixed league snake draft, Brandon Belt typically goes really late. I wouldn’t expect the moon or anything, but I agree that there’s profit potential considering his uber late typical draft spot/low auction price compared with other 1bs outside the first bunch.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. jdbolick says:

    Isn’t Belt fundamentally limited by Posey presumably playing more and more games at 1st base going forward? As far as his profile is concerned, I noted a while back that he’s extremely similar to Freddie Freeman, and presumably he could therefore have the same kind of “breakout” if playing time isn’t an issue.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Stan Gable says:

      Freeman’s about a year and a half younger but I see what you mean in a broad sense. I think Atlanta’s first sacker has upside beyond what he’s displayed thus far though.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *