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Brandon Belt hit only seven home runs in 2012.
I am not sold on Brandon Belt as the Giants' everyday first baseman. He is a fine defensive player, but he is very inconsistent offensively.
The biggest issue I see with Belt is a hitch in his swing, followed by a long, loopy path to the ball. This approach gives him a lot of trouble against a good inside fastball. Belt struggles to get around on the fastball in on his hands and frequently fouls it off weakly to the left or misses it completely.
In order to get around on this pitch, Belt sometimes cheats and pulls his hips early. If an opposing pitcher or catcher senses this, they will call for off-speed pitches down and away. Belt tends to roll over on this pitch and hit weak grounders to second base.
In 2012, Belt hit .275, with seven home runs and 56 RBI in 411 at-bats. This was a very soft .275 average, however, as Belt does not provide enough power as a first baseman. His SLG of .421 was below all Giants' regulars, except for shortstop Brandon Crawford and outfielder Gregor Blanco.
Belt's greatest strength as a hitter is his selective approach, which enabled him to draw 54 walks. However, he also strikes out far too often. Belt had 106 whiffs in his 411 at-bats. That equates to a punchout every four at-bats, which is extremely poor.
Belt was also victimized by the strikeout in the postseason. He struck out 19 times in only 49 at-bats.
There are two things Belt needs to do to become more consistent and thus far, he has been reluctant to make changes. First, he should back up in the batters box, giving him a little more time to see and get around on the fastball.
In addition, Belt must become more direct to the ball. This is not easy for a player who's 6'5", like Belt. By minimizing the hitch and loop in his swing, Belt will become a much more potent hitter.
These technical adjustments have been suggested by Will Clark, batting coach Hensley Meulens and echoed by manager Bruce Bochy.
If Belt makes some adjustments, he will become a better hitter and provide the Giants with much needed pop from the first base position. The Giants are counting on him to show continued improvement in 2013.