Brandon Belt should stay in minors

If he is called up in the first three weeks, it could cost the Giants millions in arbitration

Originally Published: March 25, 2011
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs

With Opening Day less than a week away, the San Francisco Giants still have a few things to decide before finalizing their roster: Who will close while Brian Wilson recovers from an oblique strain? Does Aaron Rowand deserve another chance to try and earn his inflated salary? And, most importantly, what should they do with top prospect Brandon Belt?

The left-handed slugging first baseman -- and sometimes outfielder -- demolished minor league pitching last year, climbing from Class A all the way to Triple-A and hitting at every stop along the way. He capped his season with a monstrous showing in the Arizona Fall League and has continued to impress with his advanced hitting skills during spring training. Despite having only one professional season of experience, it appears that Belt has little left to learn in the minors.

However, the decision on whether or not he should break camp with the big league team is more complicated than simply determining whether he's good enough to handle major league pitching right now. The question the Giants need to answer is whether Belt's potential production in the first two months of the season might outweigh the escalating costs they would face down the line. Based on some projections and historical comparisons, we can help them with the calculations.