Sandoval, Beltran, and Belt: The Last Hope for Giants' Offense, Playoff Push

Manny RandhawaCorrespondent IIIAugust 25, 2011

Rumor has it that Brandon Belt has finally earned an everyday spot in the lineup.

Combine the everyday presence of Belt with the only consistent hitter in San Francisco's lineup thus far—Pablo Sandoval—and the return of Carlos Beltran (including the possible return of his New York swing), and the Giants may have a little life stirring in the heart of the order.

That little life is what's going to have to carry this club offensively the rest of the way.

San Francisco's pitching staff has proven that if the Giants score four runs on any given day, they win. Period.

The Giants are 42-9 when scoring four runs or more.

Let's read that stat once more and let it sink in: 42-9 when scoring at least four runs in a game.

While it's clear that, if San Francisco puts four runs on the board, they're very likely going to win the ball game, it's equally clear that the Giants don't have the capability outside of the middle of their lineup to do any real offensive damage.

Although Giants Manager Bruce Bochy refuses to drop Aubrey Huff out of the fourth or fifth slots in the order, Huff has shown no signs of life outside of a three-homer outburst against the Cardinals in July.

Carlos Beltran can finally take a trip around the bases at AT&T Park following his homer Wednesday night.
Carlos Beltran can finally take a trip around the bases at AT&T Park following his homer Wednesday night.

And while a Huff resurgence would be more than welcome in San Francisco, it can't be counted on at this late hour.

So it's up to three men: Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Beltran and Brandon Belt (in that order, and Belt should hit behind Beltran) will be tasked with the tall order of carrying a Giants' offense that otherwise has little punch.

If, somehow, these three can shoulder the responsibility and can manage to produce enough for the Giants to average close to four runs/game from here on out, San Francisco could be dangerous come October.

Impossible, you say? Too much to ask of just these three?

Perhaps. But looking at the stats, it's tempting to think it actually resides just within the bounds of plausibility.

Pablo Sandoval has been San Francisco's most consistent offensive force, hitting .305 with 15 home runs and 50 RBI for the year. He's hitting .308 in August with six doubles, four homers and 12 RBI.

Carlos Beltran, who returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night after two weeks on the disabled list, hit his first home run as a Giant into the right field arcade at AT&T Park. That may be the spark that Beltran needed to get going, and it may be an indication that he's settling into his new role.

And Brandon Belt? Despite persevering through a season that, by any measure, has been frustrating to say the least—with Belt vacillating back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues and even going on the DL for a time with a fractured wrist—the phenom has produced whenever he's gotten the chance with the Giants.

In August, Belt is hitting .290 with a triple, three home runs, five RBI, a .371 on-base percentage and a .645 slugging percentage.

Belt is 7-for-12 since making an adjustment to his swing that helps him reach pitches to the outside part of the plate.

A Sandoval-Beltran-Belt combination in the heart of the order will have to, and might just actually be, enough for this team to get back to the postseason.

A huge key to this trio is the presence of Belt behind Beltran, giving Beltran some legitimate protection behind him in the order to ensure he sees good pitches to hit down the stretch.

With a 3.05 team ERA in the second half thus far, the Giants' pitching staff is more than capable of getting the job done when spotted four runs a game.

But with 32 games to go, the time for these three to go on a collective hot-streak is now, as there is no room left for offensive futility.