San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt had the worst year of his career in 2019. But there is reason to believe in a bounce-back 2020 season.
With the start of Opening Day officially delayed, MLB teams across the United States have a very unique set of circumstances as the beginning of the season looms.
While teams have been told to end organized workouts, players may still have a chance to work out and get healthy for the beginning the year.
While the San Francisco Giants do not have any notable injury issues, this delay will leave the roster’s combination of aged veterans and young upstarts with an unprecedented amount of time.
There are many interesting storylines on a Giants team that is expected to finish near the bottom of the MLB standings.
When will the season begin? How will young players like Mike Yastrzemski and Mauricio Dubon develop? How will longtime Giants such as Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Jeff Samardzija, and Evan Longoria fair at this stage in their careers?
There is one player in particular who is poised for an especially interesting season — first baseman Brandon Belt.
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The former All-Star has been a cornerstone in San Francisco since his debut with the team back in 2011. He was also a key part of the Giants’ two World Series titles in 2012 and 2014.
However, Belt is now largely considered to be a former star who is past his prime. Here’s why he is a prime candidate to bounce back in 2020.
Brandon Belt holds career averages of 14 home runs and 52 RBI with a batting average of .261. His best season came in 2016 when he hit 17 homers, 82 RBI and a .275 average.
While the first baseman’s .234 average in 2019 was well off his career marks, his 17 home runs and 57 RBI proved he can still be a dangerous offensive weapon.
The other important number on Belt’s resume is his age. The 31-year-old is likely younger than many realize. The fact that he has played the same position with the same team for nearly a decade makes it feel as though he has been around for much longer than he has.
Belt is actually the same age or younger than several of the top players at his position according to the WAR statistic. D.J. LeMahieu (31), Carlos Santana (33), and Paul Goldschmidt (32) all finished in the top-10 in 2019.
While all players should expect to see some form of regression as they get older, there is no reason to believe that Belt’s age will prevent him from a run at a top-10 finish.
I predict that the Giants’ slugger will be one of the team’s most effective offensive weapons this season.
While the franchise’s lack of top-tier talent may affect Belt’s ability to collect RBI, he should still be a solid source of power. He is also projected to be the team’s No. 3 hitter, behind Yastremski and Posey.
I project that he will see a noticeable uptick in his batting average, hitting between .255 and .265. He should also be in a prime position to eclipse 17 homers and 65 RBI.
This will not place Belt in a position to compete for an All-Star berth. But it will allow him to re-establish himself as one of the better players at his position.
Whether you’re cheering for the San Francisco Giants, or building a fantasy baseball roster, you should look for big things from Brandon Belt in 2020 and beyond!
How do you feel about Belt as Opening Day draws closer?