So it’s understandable that few wanted to put too much stock in the power surge. Hell, Belt at his best, by his own admission even, is never going to be that guy you pencil in for 30-plus jacks. That’s never been his game, never been what made those witness to his minor-league magic predict annual trips to the All-Star Game.
No, what prompted those projections was Belt’s ability to make the most difficult thing to do in sports — squarely affix one rounded thing (bat) traveling at lightning speed to another (ball) — look ridiculously easy.
Power? Yeah, it’s nice, but a lot of guys who aren’t truly special hitters have power, and for once the Giants have quite a bit of it.
Mike Morse comes to mind, and welcome aboard, big fella. Just don’t bump into your defensive replacement on your way to the bench in the eighth inning.
Going into the season, the Giants had exactly one truly special hitter of whom they were certain: Buster Posey. On Tuesday night, Belt confirmed that he, too, is special, with a single at-bat.
Already in calm, collected possession of a multihit night, Belt stepped into the box in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Dodgers’ Kenley Jensen, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer who throws every bit as hard and nasty as you’d expect a 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer to throw. Jansen was painting with heat, too, working the outside corner with frightening ferocity.
To which Belt responded with something along the lines of a metaphorical yawn. Yeah, so?
After briefly assessing his situation and Jensen’s stuff, Belt did what only truly special hitters do: Line drive the other way, an RBI for me, a tie game for my team, and a blown save for you.
Big deal, say the doubters. How is that different from his many other flashes of brilliance?
Here’s how: Look at Belt’s history. At every level, he’s struggled initially in the season before figuring it out and emerging as one of that level’s best. In the minors, you figure it out pretty quickly if you’re the real deal. It takes longer up here.
That Belt hasn’t struggled for any extended period of time early this season says it all. He’s figured it out. Mark the date.