Brandon Belt

Five Giants hitters who've had much more success when visiting Rockies

Five Giants hitters who've had much more success when visiting Rockies

The Giants and Rockies play 19 times every year, with three series at Coors Field and three at Oracle Park. Those games could not possibly be any more different. 

The ones in San Francisco tend to end with scores like 4-2, 2-1, or, in one wild case last year, 8-5. In Denver, it's predictably a free-for-all. There are normal games, to be sure, but the Giants also won one game last year at Coors Field by a score of 19-2. Another win was 11-8, and there was a 12-11 loss mixed in. 

That's the norm in the season series every year, with wild swings depending on where they play. There's just one real exception, and you know him well. Extrapolate Nolan Arenado's career stats at Oracle Park over a full season and you have 29 homers, 45 doubles and 95 RBI, albeit it with a .819 OPS that's nearly 200 points lower than his career mark at home.

Arenado breaks Giants' hearts no matter where he faces them, and they'll see the digital version of the third baseman in tonight's PlayStation simulation on NBC Sports Bay Area. Tonight's game would have been played in San Francisco, so it likely would have been low-scoring. 

But the Giants-Rockies matchup got us thinking: Which Giants would benefit most from switching ballparks? If you go through the roster, there are some serious outliers. Here are five Giants who stood out for their career numbers at Coors:

Buster Posey

Put Posey on the Rockies for a full season and he might take a run at his second MVP award. In 73 career games at Coors Field, Posey has a .368 average, .435 OBP and .610 slugging percentage that's 172 points higher than his mark in home games. He has 14 homers, his most in any ballpark other than Oracle. 

It all makes perfect sense. Posey has a middle-of-the-field approach, and while Coors is known for being a launching pad, it also has a massive outfield that provides Posey plenty of green to aim at. His .368 average there is the highest among active players and sixth-highest in the ballpark's history for players with more than 250 at-bats. 

The ballpark was particularly helpful in 2012 when he won his MVP award. Posey went 16-for-33 in Denver that year with three homers and nine RBI. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Donovan Solano

Like Posey, this veteran infielder has a solid approach that's tailor-made for the outfield at Coors. Solano went 9-for-18 last year with three homers and five RBI. He first played there in 2012, and overall he has a .306/.328/.597 slash line as a visitor.

Last year's demolition of Coors helped Solano become just the second player since 1979 to hit .400 on the road (minimum 100 plate appearances). He hit .402, joining Ichiro, who batted .405 on the road in 2004. 

Billy Hamilton 

There are others with better numbers -- most notably, Mike Yastrzemski loved Coors as a rookie -- but the new Giants center fielder stands out because he has never been known for his bat. At Coors Field, however, Hamilton has an .875 OPS in 18 games and a .382 OBP that's well above his low career mark (.297). 

Hamilton has never homered at Coors but has six doubles and two triples. He is a perfect 8-for-8 stealing bases. He's a perfect fit for the ballpark defensively, something that'll be fun to watch if the Giants ever make it there this summer. A ball in the gap could put us on inside-the-park watch, too. 

Evan Longoria

He has played most of his career in the American League, but he definitely took advantage of those rare trips to Coors Field, picking up 13 hits and three homers in nine games there while with the Rays. 

Longoria has kept that going as a Giant, and overall he's a .347 hitter in 18 starts at Coors Field, with a .405 OBP, .636 slugging percentage and six homers. Longoria even has four triples, his most in any ballpark other than Tropicana Field. 

[RELATED: Could Luciano make Giants roster? Zaidi considering it]

Wilmer Flores

Gabe Kapler will have some appealing options at first base for his first trip to Denver as a Giant. Brandon Belt has 10 career homers there, including a shot into the third deck a few years ago:

Flores, the right-handed newcomer, has had even more success from an OPS standpoint. He has a 1.054 mark in 15 career games in Denver, buoyed by a .423 on-base percentage. He has driven in 13 runs in just 46 at-bats there. 

Brandon Belt gives hilarious response about facing Madison Bumgarner

Brandon Belt gives hilarious response about facing Madison Bumgarner

Among the many moments we have already missed because of baseball's postponement is a game that could have been the most interesting of the 2020 season. 

The Giants were going to visit the Arizona Diamondbacks on their first road trip, and they would have faced Madison Bumgarner. It was a matchup he was looking forward to, and one his longtime teammates were waiting for, too. 

The good-natured trash talk began at FanFest, and Brandon Belt continued it on a recent episode of "Chalk Talk at Home." Belt, who joked at FanFest that he thinks his longtime friend might drill him with a pitch, said he's looking forward to digging in against Bumgarner whenever that happens. 

"I think it's going to be fun. It's the guy that you played with for so long and now he's on the other side of the field," he said. "I really just want to hit a homer off him. I'll take my time running around the bases, probably do a pretty good bat-flip, maybe talk to him a little bit as I'm rounding first. I'm going to savor that."

Belt (who is generally more of a dramatic-bat-dropper) is probably one of the few big leaguers who could get away with that. The two often had a fun back-and-forth going. 

The Giants are planning to go platoon-heavy whenever they return and Wilmer Flores might get a lot of first base reps against lefties, but hopefully Gabe Kapler lets the longtime regulars take their cracks when the Giants first see Bumgarner. The franchise's former ace wouldn't want it any other way. 

[RELATED: What if Giants never traded for Hunter Pence?]

Bumgarner said this spring that he was already thinking about his first matchup with the Giants. Asked if he had already thought about what he would throw Buster Posey, he smiled and cut a reporter's question off. 

"Oh yeah. Oh yeah," he said. "Yes."

Giants' Brandon Crawford makes fun of Brandon Belt's new mustache

Giants' Brandon Crawford makes fun of Brandon Belt's new mustache

Maybe a new mustache will help Brandon Belt hit 20 homers in a season.

The Giants' first baseman, just like all of us during the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, has let his hair grooming go by the wayside.

Belt showed off his new facial hair during a Zoom conference call this week, and teammate Brandon Crawford chimed in with a well-timed Will Farrell joke.

Well played, BCraw. Well played.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Whenever the 2020 MLB season starts, Belt will begin his 10th season with the Giants.

In 156 games last season, Belt slashed .234/.339/.403 with 17 homers and 57 RBI.

Belt has a fan in new Giants manager Gabe Kapler, who said he doesn't want the 32-year-old to do anything differently.

"I think Brandon Belt looks really good in the batter's box," Kapler told reporters in Arizona in February. "He's kind of an assassin in there in that he's not passive at all. He's very aggressive, but if a pitch doesn't look like he can drive it he's just laying off. When something hangs and he gets a good pitch to hit, he's really taking a good, healthy aggressive pass.

"I just think we value his approach at the plate so much and I think it's going to play very well for him in spring training but ultimately in the season."

[RELATED: Belt carrying Giants in simulation]

No word yet on how Kapler feels about Belt's mustache, but if it helps him at the plate, we're sure the new skipper won't tell his first baseman to shave it.