Can rookies Belt, Freeman rebound?

Updated: April 20, 2011, 1:43 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

If you had asked me before the season to choose between the potential National League Rookie of the Year first base candidates, I would have chosen Freddie Freeman over Brandon Belt, but mainly because of opportunity, not ability. The Atlanta Braves were clearly more committed to their rookie for this season, and still are. I like Belt. He is athletic and knows how to take a walk; through the first few weeks he leads the San Francisco Giants with eight free passes and is tied for the team lead with two stolen bases, and he's regarded well enough that the team was willing to try him in right field.

Of course, he's also hitting .192 with only two extra-base hits, so it should be no surprise if he gets demoted to Triple-A Fresno when last season's playoff hero and incumbent right fielder Cody Ross comes off the disabled list Wednesday. Belt really could have made the decision tougher. Alas, even if he goes back to the minors soon, he'll return this season and I think he will make an impact in NL-only formats and deeper leagues. I mean, he has all of 13 games of Triple-A experience, so let's give him a month or two.

It became obvious a week ago that Belt wouldn't be with the big club for much longer, even though I can't say I agree with the decision -- Ross isn't anything special statistically -- but I also started to wonder about Freeman as well. He wasn't hitting, and whispers of more Eric Hinske were being heard. Buried in the No. 8 lineup slot ahead of the pitcher, while good for being pitched around and thus adding to Freeman's walk totals, isn't good for him overall.