Maybe it's because we're on the west coast, and knowing more than two players on a three-time World Series winning team is too much, but Brandon Belt has arguably been the San Francisco Giants best hitter this year and nobody is talking about it. He is tied for the team lead with 12 home runs, second to Buster Posey in runs scored, and second to Brandon Crawford in runs batted in.
For the past week or so, I have been reading Brian Kenny's new book "Ahead of the Curve" and have found a lot of his analysis on the game of baseball to be quite interesting. With this newfound interest, I have been visiting FanGraphs multiple times a day and soaking in more and more information. I have been familiar with wRC+, but this season is the first time that I have really been using it as a measuring tool. According to the glossary on the site, wRC+ is a statistic that attempts to credit a hitter for the value of each outcome (single, double, etc.) rather than treating all hits or times on base equally, while also controlling for park effects and the current run environment.
Essentially this is meant to be a better representation of a player's true offensive abilities and adjusts for the park that they play in.
So why all of this explanation? Because it's Belt that leads the Giants hitters in this category at 146, or 46 percent above league average. Behind him are Hunter Pence (137), Posey (125) and Mac Williamson (124). While Crawford has the highest WAR (wins above replacement) on the club at 4.2, his wRC+ is sixth at 111, which is still above league average with the average always being 100.
That is the backdrop for the headline, because according to a number of traditional statistics, Paul Goldschmidt could still be argued as the better all around first baseman, yet if you take a sabermetric approach, it's Belt that comes out ahead.
With the stats used above, how can this even be a question? America's first baseman is obviously better! Yet, when we look at some not-so-widely-accepted statistics...
With these stats, it's hard to make a declarative statement for either player, as they have the same WAR, nearly identical walk and strikeout rates, and while Belt wRC+, it's not by an enormous margin. Goldschmidt has 14 stolen bases to Belt's zero, but Belt has also saved eight runs while manning first, one while in left, while Goldy has saved three. Again, these two factors could cancel each other out.
This wasn't a way to say that the Giants have the better first baseman. Instead, it was a way to show Belt some love by comparing him to one of the more respected first basemen in the game and hopefully help some of those on the outside learn a new name on the roster outside of Posey and Madison Bumgarner.