Brandon Belt Is … Roger Maris

OK, settle down. Brandon Belt is probably not Roger Maris. Maris, after all, won two AL MVP awards and once held the record for most home runs in a single season with 61.

Belt is simply a 23-year-old left-handed hitter who's got a partial season of at-bats under his belt.

But Steve Treder at The Hardball Times has an interesting comparison, because once upon a time, Maris too was a 23-year-old left-handed hitter. Although Maris was getting run, he was traded in 1958 after posting pretty much the equivalent of Belt's 2011.

In 1958, a 23-year-old Maris hit nine home runs, recorded 41 hits (five doubles, one triple), walked 17 times and posted a .225/.287/.699 line in 202 plate appearances (182 at bats) over 51 games with the Indians, before he was traded to the Royals.

In 2011, a 23-year-old Belt hit nine home runs, recorded 42 hits (six doubles, one triple), walked 20 times and posted a .225/.306/.718 line in 209 plate appearances (187 at bats) over 63 games with the Giants, while being yanked back and forth from Triple-A to the big-league club.

Belt struck out substantially more (57 K's) than Maris (just 33 whiffers), but as Treder points out, the average strikeout rate in 1958 was nearly twice as low as in 2011.

So that's something you might expect out of Belt without being too concerned.

What no one's expecting out of Belt? Two MVP awards, four All-Star Game appearances and a 60-home run season. But that's what Maris put together in the four years after being traded from Cleveland to KC and then again to New York in 1959.

Perhaps the Giants would be wise to see what Belt can do with a full season. Or, at the very least, just make sure not to trade him.

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