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Lowell Cohn: Giants' Brandon Belt has gone from supporting actor to leading man (w/video)

  • Brandon Belt grabs an out at first base during the Giants home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park on Tuesday, April 8, 2014. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)

Which means it's a big deal. The Giants are hitting better — and with more power — than anyone expected. Belt is a big reason. Until this season, he was a good player but not really an important player on the Giants, not Buster Posey or Pablo Sandoval or Madison Bumgarner.

If the Giants were a movie, he was a supporting actor, the hero's sidekick. We're talking a beach blanket movie here. The Belt character would carry the Posey character's towel and boogie board and the Posey character would ace him out for the beautiful beach girl and the Belt character was reduced to cheering for the hero even though the Belt character secretly loved the hero's girlfriend but she hardly ever acknowledged him.

San Francisco Giants Home Opener

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This season, Belt is fast becoming one of the stars. A leading man type. How did that happen?

Cut to Bruce Bochy after the game: "He's gotten off to a great start. He was behind the eight ball previous years. He'd come off a great spring training and get off to a bad start. And he'd start battling the numbers. He doesn't have to do that this year. Hopefully, that will help him relax a little more, which it has. He was a different hitter the second half (last season) and he's carried that into the season. But really before the season started, he wasn't swinging the bat all that well. He's doing a nice job of helping carry us."

As Bochy astutely mentioned, the change in Belt began the second half of last season and gave him a long runway into his great start this season. I quote from the Giants' media guide: "Hit .346 (66-for-191) with seven HRs and 28 RBI following Aug. 1 ... his .346 clip during this span was the third-highest mark in the NL."

Don't you just love notes like that? The word "clip" alone is worth at least a nickel, and it was indeed a very good clip Belt had at the end of 2013. And he's still clipping along, batting .343 right now.

That's what you call clippage.

A couple of things helped Belt become a clipper. He improved his balance in the batter's box. I know that's hardly thrilling, but it's a fact. He also changed his grip, moved the bat more to his fingertips and relaxed his hands. So, if you try this at home — and please don't hit balls in the living room — move the bat to your fingertips and expect a happier life.

"That's what you're hoping to see from these fellows," Bochy said, "is growth and, certainly, he's grown into a smarter hitter and more dangerous hitter."


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