Stats & Info: Brandon Belt

Belt living up to his name with power

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8

Brandon Belt is crushing inside pitches.
In the first week of the season, it looks like Brandon Belt has made the adjustment necessary to be an elite player.

Belt hit his fifth homer in eight games to lift the San Francisco Giants to a win in their home opener on Tuesday. The Giants have now won six straight home openers, tied for their longest streak in franchise history.

Belt became the first player to hit five home runs in the Giants' first eight team games since Jose Cruz Jr. in 2003.
The home runs share a common bond. Four of them have come on inside pitches (pitches on the inner-third of the plate or closer to the hitter). Over the previous two seasons, Belt totaled only four home runs on those pitches.

Belt also showed himself not to be intimidated by AT&T Park, a venue in which he hit only six of his 17 home runs last season.

Belt closed 2013 strong, hitting .326 with seven home runs in 61 games after the All-Star Break.

His 2013 slashline (.289/.360/.481) was a near-mirror for another player in the ballpark on Tuesday-- Paul Goldschmidt’s-- numbers in 2012 (.286/.359/490). Goldschmidt has been someone who has crushed inside pitches over the course of his career. Belt can now say he does as well.

Bonifacio, Belt, Pagan sizzling to start 2014

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
Who have been baseball's best hitters the first few days of the season? A couple of players staked their claims in wins on Thursday.

Bonifacio again off to a good start
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who had a better opening week than the newest Cubs infielder, Emilio Bonifacio.

Bonifacio is 11-for-16 with four stolen bases through the first three games of the season. In March and April the previous two seasons, he hit a combined .216; in the opening month of 2011, he hit .318. He started the 2009 season 14-for-24 (.583) in his first five games, but finished the season hitting .252.

The heat map below shows how Bonifacio has been effective from both sides of the plate with what is a very small sample. He didn't crack a .250 batting average from either side last season.

Pagan, Belt take Giants step forward
Angel Pagan has been with the Giants since the start of the 2012 season, and the team has been far better when he plays.

In games that Pagan has appeared in, the Giants are 129-99 (.566). In the games Pagan has not played, they are 44-56 (.440).

Coincidence? Perhaps. And we’re not going to make the case that he belongs on the list of the most indispensable players in baseball (we’ll leave that to Dan Szymborski, who is writing on that topic in the near future).

But at the very least, Pagan is off to a good start in 2014.

Pagan was a notch behind Brandon Belt with regards to his value in the Giants’ winning three of four from the Arizona Diamondbacks in Arizona. But Pagan had multiple hits and at least one RBI in all three wins.

On Thursday, he hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning against Diamondbacks reliever Will Harris. The homer was noteworthy because it came on the first pitch of the at-bat. Pagan hadn’t hit a first-pitch homer in his time with the Giants before Thursday.

One of the things that Pagan brings to a lineup is a low rate of missed swings. In the past, Pagan’s ability to put his bat on the ball has been overshadowed by a teammate who rates a bit better at that than he does -- Marco Scutaro.

Pagan has missed on only three of his 29 swings so far this season. The average major league hitter misses about twice as often as Pagan does.

Pagan’s six RBIs pace the Giants so far, one more than teammate Brandon Belt, who hit his third home run of the season on Thursday.

Belt thrived away from AT&T Park last season, particularly in the second half, when he hit .356 with four home runs in 28 road games. He’s already just one homer shy of that total.

Belt’s overall 2013 slash line of .289 AVG/.360 OBP/.481 SLG nearly mirrors Paul Goldschmidt’s 2012 (.286/.359/.490). Goldschmidt (who has a 25-game hitting streak) was an MVP candidate in 2013. Belt has been one for the opening week of 2014.
Today’s Trivia: Miguel Cabrera turns 28 today. Even though he is two years away from 30, he has the most career home runs (252) among active players under 30. Who has the second-most?

Edinson Volquez
Quick Hits – A look at some players and teams that can’t seem to solve a certain inning.

• After allowing 4 ER in the first inning Sunday, Edinson Volquez now has a first-inning ERA of 29.25. It’s just 1.93 in all other innings.

• Twice this season Volquez has allowed back-to-back homers to a team’s first two batters of the game. Only two other active pitchers have had two such games in their careers: Chad Durbin (both in 2000) and Ted Lilly (2001 and 2005).

• The Tampa Bay Rays are just 6-for-49 (.122) in the first inning this season, worst in the majors.

• B.J. Upton is hitting .118 in the first six innings, but is 9-for-18 in the final three innings.

• The Texas Rangers have only eight hits in the first inning, but four are home runs.

• The Philadelphia Phillies are the antithesis of first-inning struggles. They’ve outscored opponents 15-0 in the first. The Phillies have a .393 average in the first compared to just .100 for their opponents.

• The Atlanta Braves are 5-for-39 (.128) in the ninth inning, but that’s not the only area of concern. Out of the ninth spot in the order, the Braves are 0-for-50 this season. Pitchers are 0-for-27, pinch-hitters are 0-for-23.

• Brandon Belt is 1-for-20 in the seventh inning or later and 9-for-30 otherwise.

This Date in Baseball History
1923 - Babe Ruth homers in the first game at the original Yankee Stadium.

1987 - Mike Schmidt hit his 500th career home run off Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Don Robinson.

2007 - Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox faced the minimum 27 batters in a 6-0 no-hit victory over the Rangers.

Trivia Answer: Prince Fielder (195) has the second-most home runs for an active player below 30. Still just 26, he turns 27 in May.