Why Belt's power binge won't last
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Admittedly, Brandon Belt would be a great name for a 30-homer slugger, but I don't think the San Francisco Giants third baseman is that guy.

He might be that guy if he played for any of the other 29 franchises in Major League Baseball, but suiting up in the Bay Area black and orange means he has to play half his games in power-draining AT&T Park.

In 547 at-bats at home, Belt has hit just 13 home runs, compared to 23 in 587 career at-bats on the road.

In other words, the dedicated fans who kayak in McCovey Cove aren't counting on Belt for many "Splash Hits," even though the 25-year-old does have the last three of them by a Giants player (albeit none in 2013).

Belt already has three round-trippers this season, but the Giants are yet to have their home opener. That will come Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Belt was a .343 hitter with 31 homers and a 1.052 OPS in 825 career minor- league plate appearances, and he finally lived up to some of that potential when he hit .289 with 17 homers, 67 RBI, 76 runs and an .841 OPS last year.

The first baseman went on a tear in his final 51 games, hitting .346 in 191 at-bats during that span, but his power was still lacking.

He hit seven homers in that stretch, which extrapolates to 23 longballs per 162 games.

Belt had a similar batted-ball profile at home and on the road last season -- 24.1 percent line-drive rate,33.8 percent ground-ball rate, 42.1 percent fly- ball rate at home; 24.5 percent line-drive rate, 34.9 percent ground-ball rate, 40.6 percent fly-ball rate on the road -- but his home-run-per-fly-ball ratio (HR/FB) was 14.1 percent on the road and just 7.3 percent at AT&T Park.

AT&T Park didn't only diminish Belt's power. The park ranked 28th in baseball in Park Factor for home runs and was last in both 2011 and 2012.

That doesn't mean Belt hasn't enjoyed hitting there in his career. He has a .282 average and an .810 OPS at home while hitting .266 with a .793 OPS on the road.

But some of the fly balls that may have been home runs in other stadiums became doubles and triples for Belt in AT&T Park.

Belt also struck out in 21.9 percent of his plate appearances last season and needed a .351 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) to hit .289. He has fanned eight times without taking a walk in 27 plate appearances this year.

Due to Belt hitting a high percentage of line drives, he's going to have a BABIP above the major league average of .297, but he'll still be prone to fluctuation because he strikes out so much.

He's much more likely to hit .270 this year than he is to hit .310.

As for home runs, he'll have a shot at 25 ... if he can keep up his power binge on the road.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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