At the beginning of 2010, not too many San Francisco Giants fans were aware of Brandon Belt's existence in the farm system.
By the start of 2011, Belt was a shortlist favorite for the National League Rookie of the Year award. However, the preseason predictions did not go according to plan.
After a few injuries and a good amount of rehab time, Belt is finally fully healed and ready to contribute on the Major League level. So why exactly isn't Belt on the 25-man roster?
Here are three reasons why the Giants should bring Belt up as soon as possible as a starter.
Huff has struggled mightily at the plate in 2011.
I know that I along with other Giants fans and writers sound like broken records, but this is a team that needs offensive production.
The offense's identity has wavered this year between a team that hits home runs and a team that needs to manufacture runs using "small ball". Since neither formula is working all that well for a team that is in the bottom-five in most offensive categories, something needs to be changed.
Current first-baseman and 2010 hero Aubrey Huff is currently putting up a line of .235/.289/.363 (average, on-base percentage, slugging). By comparison, Brandon Belt has a line of .333/.469/.565 at Triple-A this year with seven jacks and 29 RBI in 42 games.
I don't have to remind Giants fans that Belt's 2010 line throughout the minors was .352/.455/.620 with 23 homers and 112 RBI. Belt is for real and the Giants need to use his bat sooner rather than later.
You never know what a July or August call-up can do for a team (ahem...Buster Posey).
Belt has shown he can handle first-base in the Majors.
Even when Belt was struggling offensively early in the season, he still flashed his fancy glove-work at first base more than a few times.
Although Huff is certainly not a liability at corner infield spot, Belt definitely gives the Giants significantly more range on the right side. First is a lot friendlier for a 6'6", 220-pound lefty than a 6'4", 225-pound righty 11 years his senior.
If the Giants bring up Belt now, they can avoid giving up a pitcher on a rental player like Carlos Beltran and rely on their own system that has proven to be the most successful in all of baseball. It should be noted that GM Brian Sabean is much more likely to look to the farm rather than the checkbook when it comes to offense versus pitching.
As hard as it is to believe, Belt is in fact old enough to play professional baseball.
Why drive the old, busted Oldsmobile that gets from A to B unpredictably when you can have a brand new Cadillac with no mileage?
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Huff, and maybe Cadillacs are not what they used to be, but my point remains. The Giants know what Aubrey Huff is contributing to the team this year; that production is not going to be near the .290/.385/.506 line he put up last year, not to mention the lack of 26 homers and 86 RBIs.
The Giants have given opportunities to Brandon Crawford, Emmanuel Burriss and Hector Sanchez. Belt may have been injured, but you have to believe a fully healthy Belt will do just as well and likely better than Huff.
The core of this Giants team is youth (especially on the pitching side). Pablo Sandoval, Crawford, Schierholtz and Sanchez are what the offense could eventually be built around.
Why not give Belt some time now? It certainly wouldn't damage the team's production and Giants management would look great if he gave the offense a significant boost.
Come on Mr. Sabean, time to promote from within.