Giants

Giants need Bryant to provide power with Belt out of NLDS

Giants
Kris Bryant

The Giants have never been this powerful. Not in the days of Barry Bonds or long before then with Willie Mays and Willie McCovey in the same lineup. Never.

In a season full of surprises, the Giants' ability to bash the long ball might be the biggest. Only one team -- the Toronto Blue Jays -- hit more home runs than the Giants this season. San Francisco's 241 home runs weren't just the most in the NL this year, it set a new franchise record.

The beauty of the Giants' offense is the collection of players who found a power surge this season. Ten different players hit at least 10 home run for the Giants. When Barry Bonds set the single-season home run record with 73 in 2001, only five players reached double digits. The Giants also set an MLB record with 17 players hitting at least five homers. Their 18 pinch-hit homers set a new major league record as well.

Here's the bad news: Their most powerful bat won't be playing against the second-best team in baseball. 

While first baseman Brandon Belt is optimistic he'll return from his fractured left thumb if the Giants advance to the National League Championship Series, he will not be available for the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Belt played just 97 games this season, but set a new career-high with 29 home runs. It's no surprise the Giants broke their franchise home run record on Belt's second homer of the day on Sept. 25. 

 

Belt found his power in August with nine homers and a .652 slugging percentage. In September, he was one of the best, if not the best, hitter in all of baseball by slashing .349/.451/.721 with nine homers, five doubles and a 1.172 OPS before his injury. Yes, the Giants' collection of power is the storyline of their offense, but Belt's absence has been, and will be, felt. 

One player isn't going to fix that hole, but one player finding his own power again can be all the difference in the world against the Dodgers. That player is Kris Bryant, the former NL MVP, and the Giants' major move at the trade deadline. 

This is what Bryant was acquired for. Not the regular season. The postseason. 

The Giants traded for Bryant, sending two prospects to the Chicago Cubs on July 30. He made his Giants debut on Aug. 1, immediately making his presence felt with a solo shot against the Houston Astros. Through his first month in San Francisco, Bryant was exactly what Giants thought he was: The perfect fit for this team, playing multiple positions on defense and being a middle-of-the-order bat for the offense. 

From Aug. 1 through Sept. 1, Bryant hit .287 with six home runs and a .900 OPS. That hitter has disappeared in the last month, though. Bryant has hit just .237 with one home run from Sept. 2 through Oct. 3. While he does have a .351 on-base percentage over that span, his .321 slugging percentage is concerning, to say the least. 

Bryant also struggled against the Dodgers this season. In 10 games against Los Angeles -- three as a Giant and seven with the Cubs -- Brant hit .135 with one home run and 15 strikeouts. From Sept. 3 through Sept. 5, a three-game series against the Dodgers, Bryant went 2-for-11 with four strikeouts. 

When the Cubs broke their curse in 2016, the same year he was named NL MVP, Bryant hit .375 with a 1.099 OPS against the Giants in the NLDS, .304 with an .842 OPS against the Dodgers in the NLCS and .269 with an .887 OPS against the Cleveland Indians in the World Series. 

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Five years later, will that same postseason hero show up for the Giants? 

That's what the Giants brought Bryant here for, and the table is set for the former MVP to forever make his mark in San Francisco.

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