San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt Hold Keys To Late September Success


Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt have turned in vastly different directions during these past couple of weeks. Belt, the highly criticized first baseman, has taken a turn for success, while Sandoval, the already proven All-Star, has seen his production dip by a hefty margin.

But they share one label as San Francisco enters the final couple weeks of the season— the keys to late September success.
Pablo Sandoval

If there’s one specific player that needs to catch fire for the Giants, it’s Pablo Sandoval. The lovable Panda has become quite the opposite of lovable in a slim matter of time. Now, he’s practically in the dog house with his manager. His rotund waist isn’t helping him get out of the doghouse either, although, that’s the least of his long list of concerns.

The Giants realize he’s scuffling. Their All-Star thrid baseman wouldn’t be on the bench in the midst of a playoff race if he wasn’t scuffing. Manager Bruce Bochy took action on Wednesday night by sitting Sandoval with the explanation being that he needs a mental break, but frankly, it’s his polite way of saying step it up, now.

The manager couldn’t be more precise.

Sandoval owns a triple slash of .238/.304/.262 since the first of September and .215/.275.241 since August 20th. To pile on the negatives, he hasn’t hit a home run in 37 games, and has only driven in 20 runs during his homer-less streak. Anyway, you pretty much see see where I’m going here.

Luckily, Sandoval’s struggles flew under the radar during the first couple weeks of his slump, as Marco Scutaro and Angel Pagan have acted as saviors. Scutaro is hitting north of .340 since Melky Cabrera was suspended, and Pagan’s batting average since the suspension sits at .329. When you are getting that type of production from your one and two hitters, a great portion of the burden is taken off the core of the lineup. In this case, Sandoval represents the core along with Buster Posey and Hunter Pence. However, Posey and Pence are trending up, while he’s trending down.

But by no means is there any guarantee that Scutaro and Pagan will keep pushing forward at the same rate as they have been for the past month. They’re not expected to do so either. If they do, then they should be awarded with the batting title today. But assuming they don’t, Sandoval will have to start pulling some weight.

Brandon Belt

Belt’s recent performances might indicate that he’s turned the corner. And this time, it appears that he has turned that corner for good, unlike the corner he turned in June where hit a home run in three straight games and amassed a .441 batting average over an 11 game span, but eventually went stone cold for nearly a month.

This time around, he has kept consistent production for 44 straight games. Since July 25th, he owns a triple slash of .340/.391/.486, and has collected two home runs along the journey. The fact that he’s been consistent over a chunk of time is intriguing. Much more intriguing that a minuscule 11 game stretch.

With all of that said, Belt’s production is vital in two ways. Firstly, if he’s hitting it makes the entire Giants’ lineup look much more formidable and threatening. Secondly, it’s a positive sign for their future, basically meaning that he is slowly transforming into the player that the Giants originally thought he was when they selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 draft.

Granted, his production is currently a bonus, but soon, it will be expected.