The Baby Giraffe’s sophomore season isn’t unfolding the way everyone had hoped. He hasn’t homered and has just 14 RBI in 41 games.
Manager Bruce Bochy has become so concerned that he has tinkered with Belt’s stance at the plate.
For most of the season, Belt has been batting sixth, but zero home runs in 100 at-bats is disappointing just about anywhere in the order. The job of a person in Belt’s position is to drive in runs, not strike out 32 times in 41 games.
Buster Posey, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco are all getting on base in front of Belt, but the left-handed first baseman is not driving them in.
Maybe changing his stance is just part of the answer. Maybe moving Belt up in the lineup would help even more.
The one thing Belt has done well this season is draw walks. He’s second on the team with 19 bases on balls. His flaccid .230 batting average overshadows a respectable .347 on-base percentage.
Batting sixth, those walk numbers don’t look great. But any team would gladly take 19 walks from the second spot in the lineup. And Bochy has been searching for an answer in that spot in the lineup.
In recent weeks, Bochy moved Brandon Crawford up to the second spot. Crawford’s hitting improved, but wasn’t drawing walks. For the last two games of the Arizona series, Ryan Theriot occupied the No. 2 spot in the order.
Batting second would let Belt be more patient, take more pitches and stop pressing. At No. 2, Belt would get better pitches to hit rather than junk out of the strike zone. He wouldn’t be asked to drive in runners or hit home runs. His job would be to get on base and allow hot hitters like Cabrera, Posey and Pagan to drive him in.