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Two Giants have shot at batting title as season winds down

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When we look back at the 2020 season, the award winners will stand out. The NL MVP might end up with 19 or 20 homers. If Jacob deGrom wins another Cy Young Award, he could only have four or five wins. The manager of the year might have gone 32-28.

This will be an outlier year in every respect, but the record books will include one regular season leader that kind of fits in with historical precedents. The hitters who were flirting with .400 earlier this season have all fallen off, and the batting champions in both leagues should finish in an area that doesn't look too out of whack. 

It's possible, too, that one of them will be a San Francisco Giant. 

Donovan Solano fell a homer short of the cycle on Tuesday night, but with three more hits, Donnie Barrels got his average up to .353, which is just six points behind Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner, the league leader. 

Solano isn't the only Giant with a shot, though. Brandon Belt had a pair of RBI singles in the 6-5 win over the Mariners to get up to .337, which is the highest average of his career by 48 points. Belt has one major factor working for him and one against as he tries to chase down Turner. 

Belt is the hottest hitter in the majors right now and remains on an upward trajectory, unlike many on the batting average leaderboard (Charlie Blackmon was hitting .417 on Aug. 21 but is 8-for-55 since). Since his hot streak started on August 16, Belt is 29-for-62 (.468) to raise his average from .128 to its current point. 

 

You won't find Belt on the current MLB leaderboard, though. Even in this shortened season, a player must have 3.1 plate appearances per team game, so any Giant would need 133 plate appearances right now to qualify for the race.

Belt, who started the season on the injured list and often sits against lefties, is at just 118 right now, and he might not be able to make up the gap given how often Wilmer Flores starts at first base. He would need exactly four plate appearances for every game the Giants play the rest of the way. 

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That leaves Solano as the best shot, and he would be one of the unlikeliest batting champs in league history. The 32-year-old was stuck in Triple-A two years ago and is a full-time starter for the first time in his career. Solano's hot start helped keep the Giants afloat, but he quietly went into a pretty wicked slump over the second half of August.

In September, the barrels have returned. Solano has 12 hits in 26 at-bats, including seven in the last three games. 

Right now, that latest run has Solano in a two-man race with Turner to become the first Giants batting champ since Buster Posey in 2012.