In 2017, the Giants scored the second fewest runs in Major League Baseball. Through 15 games in 2018, despite a retooled lineup, the Giants have scored the third fewest runs in Major League Baseball.
The offense’s cold start is coming at a bad time for San Francisco, who need extra help at the plate with three of their top five starting pitchers currently out due to injury. Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow joined Murph & Mac on Monday morning, and said while he’s no longer concerned about new acquisition Evan Longoria, two other veteran hitters have him scratching his head so far this season.
“I’m more concerned with (Brandon) Belt and Hunter Pence,” Krukow said. “It’s not happening for them right now. Pence is actually squaring up some balls, you’re not seeing many balls squared up on the sweet spot of that bat from Belt. The hits that he’s getting he’s kind’ve fisting them out, he’s not hitting on the sweet spot of the bat. To me when a guy’s hitting the ball, that tells you what his mechanics are like. You could be 0-14 — we watched it with Nick Hundley all spring — he’s been hitting the ball hard and got nothing for it. That can happen, but he’s still barreling the ball, and we have not seen consistency with Belt barreling the ball, and that’s more of a concern for me.
“Now traditionally he’s always lit it up when he’s gone at Arizona, so hopefully this is the place that gets him going. They need him going, and right now he’s not.”
Belt is a notoriously patient hitter, who is usually around the top of the league in on-base percentage. It’s part of what typically makes him so effective, but it’s also caused him some trouble this year according to Kruk.
“You have to expand your strike zone. And it’s happened with Belt three or four or five times here in the last two weeks, and they’ve been critical at-bats where the Giants need him to expand. Foul close pitches off, do not rely on the coin toss of umpires making the right call. Even if it gets called a ball early in the at-bat, if the guy comes back to it and it’s close to the strike zone, there’s a possibility you could get rung up, and it’s happening to him.
“That’s the frustration of everybody that’s watching him. That’s the way he is. He’s very patient, but I think in two strike counts he needs to expand. That absolutely has to happen.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Krukow on Belt, skip to 9:30.