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Brandon Belt had trouble handling the inside fast ball
As a hard core Giants fan and baseball follower, I noticed early on how opposing pitchers were getting Belt out. They pounded him inside with a steady diet of fastballs in on his hands.
Belt either swung and missed these inside corner strikes or weakly fouled them off to the left. Rarely did he get the bat head through the strike zone and turn on this pitch and drive it. I am not a hitting coach, but if I saw this then you know opposing teams saw it as well.
Belt stands 6'5" and like many tall players, Belt has a long loopy swing. He likes the ball middle-away, where he can extend his arms and drive the ball to left center.
I was surprised by how difficult it was for Belt to adjust and handle the hard fastball on the inside. He could have even cheated and stepped out more to clear his arms faster, but he didn't. This would make him susceptible to slower stuff away, but the vast majority of the time Belt was victimized by the inside fastball.
In an interview on KNBR radio, the Giants' flagship station, Will Clark also voiced his feelings about Belt's long swing. According to Clark, Belt needed to shorten his swing, get started earlier and stop the long loop. Clark suggested that Belt had to take a more direct path straight to the ball.
Clark opined that if Belt fails to rid himself of the long loopy swing, it would always cause him to have a hole in his swing and struggle with that inside cheese. Belt got away with that in the minors as pitchers cannot throw it there consistently, with the velocity needed to plant the ball on Belt's hands.
In the majors, many pitchers can consistently put the ball inside with good velocity and Belt couldn't handle it. He hit tier two pitchers well, but struggled against the better pitchers in the league.
To Belt's credit, he did play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He hit .300, with a 30-for-100 performance. These 100 at bats can be very valuable for Belt if he learned how to handle that inside fastball.
If Belt proves he can handle that pitch, he has the potential to approach a .300 batting average in 2012. However, if he can't then he will be in for another frustrating season.
I expect Belt to be somewhere in between. My projection is 380 at bats, a .272 average, with 22 home runs and 58 RBI.