Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Brandon Belt's Strikeout Problem

San Francisco, Brandon Belt has a problem.

Last night Belt picked up a golden sombrero going 0-4 with 4 strikeouts and walk, the walk was nice but the mounting strikeouts are a cause for concern for the young first baseman.

The strikeouts are not something new either, this is a problem that could make or break him in the majors. If he fails to make enough contact and isn't Jose Bautista when he does put the ball in play he will have a hard time living up to the immense hype.

In 190 minor league at bats he has struck out exactly 30% of the time (23.3% K/PA). His walk rate may be phenomenal at 20.8% per plate appearance but the fact that he is struggling to make contact against AAA pitching in a hitters league raises a red flag.

The sample has grown to the point that these are beginning to be reliable and are showing his true talent level and he is up near the top end of the strikeout range. It is fairly rare for a non-slugger to be able to thrive with a strikeout rate in the 25+% range and it doesn't look like Belt is going to turn into a 35-40 homer bopper anytime soon.

The silver lining in all of this is that at least Belt matches it up with a solid walk rate that can allow him to get on base even when his hits aren't falling, but as we saw in his stint in the majors this year getting the hits to fall is not a sure thing.

I am still high on Brandon Belt's future but with this red flag I am a little apprehensive to throw him into the fire of major league pitching when it seems that he is still having trouble putting the ball in play against minor leaguers.

It only complicates things that the at the moment he is the most likely the better option at first base with a slumping Aubrey Huff. So should the Giants bring him up?

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