It’s been said since the beginning of the season that Brandon Belt has a hole in his swing and that Giants coaches have been urging him to make some adjustments to try to close it. Well, after a brutal stretch the last couple of weeks where his batting average fell from .294 to .228, Belt decided to implement some of these suggestions.
As you can see from the above picture Belt’s new approach features a much more open stance, with the idea that it will allow him to turn on inside pitches easier. For what it is worth the Giants have said that they are working on getting him more upright, but that really isn’t apparent from the beginning of the season to now.
I hope that the adjustments he makes close the hole because, as much as I hate to admit it, Belt certainly does seem to have a hole that pitchers exploit underneath his hands. It really becomes apparent when I put together a crude heat map based on the pitch fx data for his short career (based on the approach used by Mike Fast here).
Brandon Belt 2011-2012 wOBA by zone:
In the zones other than up and in (where Belt’s wOBA is .203), Belt has been pretty respectable. Even Belt’s lower wOBA on pitches low and away is more of a product of his lack of power. He has still managed to post a .247 average in that zone, which is in line with his averages in the other zones.
However, when a pitcher puts the ball in on his hands — especially this season — it has led to big trouble for Belt. Belt has swung through a staggering 36% of fastballs located up and in, compared to just 20% for all the other zones. When he has made contact with pitches up and in it has been rather soft, with a line drive rate of 9% (overall his line drive rate is 19.8%).
Remember, the samples that we are looking at for each zone are not huge so we should be careful before drawing conclusions from this data … but with the scouts seeing the same things we’re probably on fairly solid ground.
It looks like the league had made adjustments to Belt, now it’s time to see if he can make the adjustments back to close the hole in his swing. With Brett Pill starting tonight, it looks like we’ll have to wait until at least Wednesday to see how Belt’s “new” stance is coming along.
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