Brandon Belt took another step forward as a professional hitter in 2016, but it was tough to notice from a fantasy perspective. The noticeable improvement was in his plate discipline, finishing with a .394 on-base percentage, good enough for fourth among all first basemen. Unless his owners participated in leagues that count on-base percentage, then they were likely left wanting more from Belt. He'll never be the power threat many thought he would be when he broke into the league, but he will get on-base at an elite clip and provide mid-level counting stats. The only potential for improvement would be if manager Bruce Bochy elects to move him to second in the batting order (something he experimented with for seven games last season), or if he begins to steal bases again. The former would create more potential for runs if he can get on in front of Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford.
Belt crushed a three-run homer in Friday's win over the Rockies. It was his only hit in four at-bats. The 28-year-old is quietly having a consistent spring, slashing .289/.340/.600 in 49 plate appearances. Quiet and consistent are also ways to describe the first baseman's offensive game. In his last three full seasons, Belt has averaged 17.3 homers, 72.3 RBI and 75.3 runs. The one aspect of his game that stands out from the rest is his ability to get on base at a high clip (.394 on-base percentage in 2016), which obviously inflates his value in leagues that incorporate that statistic. Barring an injury, we should expect more of the same from Belt in 2017.
Belt started and went 1-for-2 in his Cactus League debut Friday. The extremely patient Belt is looking to repeat last year's career-best .394 on-base percentage and .868 OPS. While his power never developed to the 25-homer level many pegged him for as a prospect, he has turned into a consistent option at first base and should finish with solid counting stats batting in the heart of the Giants' order. Leagues that use on-base percentage should value Belt higher than standard formats, but he will still hold value in other formats given how shallow the first base position is this year.
Belt is not in the lineup for Sunday's outing against San Diego. Buster Posey will take over at first base while Belt gets his first game off since Sept. 13. The Giants have Monday off, so look for Belt to return to action Tuesday when San Francisco hosts the Rockies.
Belt went 2-for-4 with a double, a run and two RBI in Friday's 8-2 win over the Cardinals. Belt contributed a two-run double during San Francisco's six-run third inning, increasing his RBI total to 74. The first baseman hasn't hit for much power lately, with just one home run over his last 29 games, but he's posting the best OPS of his career (.853) thanks to a career-high 93 walks and .390 OBP. More importantly, he's on track to set a career high in games after missing considerable time with concussions the last two seasons.
Belt (illness) is back in the lineup Wednesday, hitting sixth against the Padres, the San Jose Mercury News' Andrew Baggarly reports. He missed one game with the illness but will reassume his typical spot in the six hole Wednesday. Belt is hitting .238 with a 30.1 percent K-rate since Aug. 1, but he has also chipped in four home runs, 23 RBI and 17 runs over that span.