Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment


Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment

MIAMI Although Giants manager Bruce Bochy finallyconvinced Brandon Belt to make some adjustments to his swing, the hailstorm ofstrikeouts probably did more to convince the young first baseman that something needed to change.

The biggest thing is getting myself in a hole and notputting balls in play that should be in play, Belt told me on Friday, when hecarried an 0-for-12, eight-strikeout streak into the game. Thats an approachtype of thing. Its a mental type of thing. At the same time, there might be aneed for a mechanical adjustment.

That day, Bochy took aside Belt and asked him to be moreopen-minded to making some adjustments that hes resisted since the spring. Thecoaching staff has tried to get him to be more upright and open up his stance,thereby freeing up his hips and allowing him to turn on inside pitches.

Bochy said that Belt incorporated those changes and had betterat-bats off the bench Friday, including an RBI single.

I like where hes at right now, Bochy said today. We talked abouta lot of things, hitting approach. Sometimes you make adjustments and thatswhat hes done.

And he likes it. he likes where hes at, too, and thatsprobably more important.

Belts swing-and-miss rate is 28 percent this season. He swungthrough just 18 percent of strikes last year.

Ive gone through it, Belt told me on Friday. The end ofmy last year, I was going through the same thing when it was just tough to putballs in play. Id square a few up here and there, and Im not even doing thatright now.

Im looking at video. I see some adjustments to make. Butits more of just knowing myself. Most of it has been a timing issue or amental approach. Ive just got to figure out what to change and do it.

Personally, how is Belt dealing with these struggles?

You know, Im fine, the 24-year-old said. Im a lotbetter than I was last year. It was harder to take back then.

I know this is the worst of the worst. Thats pretty muchas bad as I can get. When I get the right approach and the right mindset, Illget better.

Belt said he has to get back to reacting to pitches insteadof guessing. Opening his stance should help him recognize pitches better, Bochysaid.

You get to a point when youre caught in between, Belt toldme. Youre not really taking a professional approach up there. Youre eitherdeciding to swing or not to swing instead of seeing the ball and hitting itlike youre supposed to.

Belt said he needed to keep his head more still, which hecan do when he keeps his weight back longer.

I havent been doing that, Belt said. I dont know ifits being too anxious or what. I just know I havent had my swing all year, not since thespring. Well make some changes and Ill try to find it.

Bochy said it was a tough call to start Aubrey Huff overBelt on Sunday. He wanted Belt to take another day, knowing how hard it is towork on making adjustments in the cage while also needing to be results-orientedwhen the game starts. Bochy also said he liked the way Huff is working deepercounts; he nearly hit a home run on Friday.

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park


Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'


Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."