Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 2/13/13
“I know we were playing Philadelphia, and I want to say we played the Dodgers after that. End of July some time. I kind of realized that, hey, you gotta help the team out somehow. … Sometimes you get lost out there, and you try to start playing to prove yourself, playing for yourself, however you want to say it, but if you go up there and remember that this is a team game, and you’re there for them, you’re going to play better personally in return.” — Brandon Belt No matter how many player interviews you’ve read, this quote from Brandon Belt fits right in. There’s little to separate it from the post-game interviews that laud camaraderie and perseverance above strategy and nuance. That’s fine — admit too much and you’ve given your competition information. There is one aspect of this quote that might be a little different than most quotes, though. Belt basically provides the exact date on which his 2012 season turned for the better. Arbitrary endpoints get no love around here. Someone even called seasons arbitrary once. So when you pull out Belt’s first- and second-half splits (He hit .293 in the second half!) you might get some howling. But, as you can see in the quote above, players have moments. They make an adjustment with the hitting coach that sticks and makes a difference. They spot something in their approach at the plate. A nagging injury heals. A personal conflict resolves itself. Sometimes, the player just needs an epiphany to clear his mind. And there was no doubt among the Giants’ beat writers that Brandon Belt was having a hard time in Philadelphia. Carl Steward, writing for Giants Extra, the Giants blog for the San Jose Mercury News, wrote on July 24th that Belt’s “lack of confidence” was “appalling” and his body language was “pitiful to the point of pathetic.” Belt, in his own blog that was ostensibly responding to those critiques, also mentioned games that he personally lost for the team that week. The Giants’ first baseman was having a tough time before an off day on July 23rd. Then he got back in the lineup and the “rest is history,” as he put it. But the how is a little nebulous, maybe. When I pushed Belt about his power numbers, though, he gave us a testable assertion about his second-half changes. I think I learned how to hit in this park in the second half of last season. You gotta hit your line drives. You have to hit line drive doubles, triples, whatever, because if you hit the ball in the air, it’s going to get knocked down. You don’t worry about trying to hit the ball out, you worry about trying to get your base hits. Try to hit the ball on a line. … Those home runs come when you get comfortable in there. Home runs come in cycles for most ballplayers. So it’s fairly easy to check the numbers now. The player has given us what is hopefully a non-arbitrary endpoint (July 23rd), and he’s outlined a change in approach (more line drives). His batted ball numbers before and after that date are eye-opening: Before June 23 After June 23 GB% 40.5% 33.9% FB% 41.8% 33.9% LD% 15.2% 30.6% GB/FB 6.1% 4.8% HR,FB Distance 282 272 It looks like Brandon Belt knows what he’s talking about. He certainly found a line drive swing in the second half — 30.6% is an elite number. He hit fewer fly balls, the ball didn’t go as far, and he didn’t hit as many home runs as he might have with a more fly-ball heavy approach, but he certainly found the frozen ropes. Now the difficult part, at least for Giants fans: A 30.6% line drive rate is not sustainable, most likely. For batters with more than 1500 plate appearances over the last three years, Joey Votto leads baseball in that statistic with a 25.5% number. And Votto himself defies the findings that suggest that line drive rate is one of the flakiest stats — its year-to-year correlation was the worst among the most common hitting metrics. Even though it was great that Belt found a line drive stroke that worked for him in the second half, he probably also was doing something that he’ll find difficult to replicate exactly the same way again. But maybe he doesn’t have to. His line drive rate for the year (25.6%) is not as much of an outlier. And all of Belt’s seven home runs came in June and September. Perhaps a year full of this newfound approach will lead to more power outbursts as he gets comfortable in his role as the starting first baseman of the Giants. It’s certainly preferable to the funk he found himself in on July 22nd, 2012.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Texas guard destroys opponent with huge dunk

Reports: Red Sox were in on Greinke if Price fell through

Chris Webber advises Lakers to swipe Kobe's memorabilia

Five-star CB excited about Kirby Smart hire by Georgia

San Diego Padres unveil awesome new uniforms

Report: Mark Richt being recruited to run for Georgia governor


Cowboys won’t put Tony Romo on IR because of playoff hopes

What the Selection Committee taught us: Week 13

Majority of FIFA sponsors demanding independent review on reforms

Zack Greinke expected to choose between Dodgers, Giants by end of week

Reports: David Price, Red Sox agree to seven-year, $217 million contract

LSU officials’ media leaks about Les Miles blew up in their faces

Claude Julien: No animosity between Bruins, Chirelli

Report: Louisville QB Will Gardner will transfer

Report: Yasiel Puig and Don Mattingly didn’t talk at all toward end

WATCH: Roy Hibbert pushes referee during scrum

Orioles set to acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

Colin Kaepernick jerseys on sale at 49ers’ team store

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz named Big Ten Coach Of The Year

Mid-American Conference Championship preview

Lakers trying to decide which Kobe Bryant jersey number to retire

Matthew Dellavedova is becoming a better passer

Ryan Kesler says the Ducks are 'too good not to be in the playoffs'

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

MAC Championship preview

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

QUIZ: Name every NCAA football national champion since 1950

Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how

NCAA figures out how to invite 5-7 teams to bowls

Ranking top Heisman Trophy candidates

Have the New Orleans Saints given up?

This weekend in NFL stupid, ft. Rex Ryan

Missouri won’t accept a bowl bid at 5-7

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker