Padres Editorial: NL West 2015-Ranking the First Basemen

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Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco Giants: Brandon Belt

The only NL West first baseman injured more last year than Yonder Alonso was the Giants’ Brandon Belt. Belt played in only 64 games, first suffering a broken thumb on a hit-by-pitch, then sitting out for two stints with symptoms from a concussion. But when he was healthy, and particularly for the final 10 games of the season and the Giants’ postseason run through the World Series, Belt began producing at the level the Giants have been hoping for. 

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Belt was a potential breakout candidate last year, following his promising 2013, in which he hit .289 with 17 homers and 39 doubles. His power continued to blossom even with his injuries last year, improving his home run rate from once every 30 AB in 2013 to once every 18 AB last year. And in the postseason, he hit .295 and reached base at a .397 clip.

While he hit only .243 in the regular season, he was hitting .264 before the broken thumb, and didn’t play more than nine games in a row until late September following the injury. And his six home runs in April showed his potential to be a 30-home run guy. At 6-foot-5, 220, he’s got the build to drive the ball out of the park. And it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him go .290 with 30 homers and 100 RBI this year. But he hasn’t put those numbers up yet, which is why he is still only ranked fourth in the NL West.