WASHINGTON D.C. -- If the Giants do ultimately decide to remodel their ballpark this offseason, you might expect Brandon Belt to be the first one lined up in Triples Alley with a jackhammer.
Nobody has had tougher luck at Oracle Park in recent years than Belt. There's no precise way to know just how many home runs the 421-foot alley has cost Belt, but it's a fair to assume that he would have at least a couple of 20-homer seasons by now, possibly as many as four, with more forgiving dimensions. Just look at what happened last Friday night.
In the 18th inning, Mr. 18th Inning led off with a mammoth blast to right-center. It left the bat at 106 mph. It was going to land an estimated 428 feet from the plate. It was a double off the top of the wall.
But on Tuesday, while discussing an article from The Athletic revealing that the Giants are internally considering moving their fences in, Belt said he's torn.
"It just depends on what they want out of the team," he said. "If they want a pitching-and-defense oriented team, keeping the park the same would be helpful. But if they want more homers, and that's just what they want on the team, yeah, you're probably going to have to change the dimensions a little bit. I'd like to see the bullpens moved out of the field of play, anyway, and the logical place to put them seems like Triples Alley. But that's a cool part of the ballpark.
"It's hard to say because I see both sides. I've definitely been affected by the dimensions of the park, there's no doubt about it, but in the end if me having to play in a bad hitters' ballpark gets me to play in a good organization, I'm alright with that. I've enjoyed my time here. Yeah it does suck having some hits taken away from you -- having walk-off homers taken away from you -- but to play with the guys I've gotten to play with and play with the organization, I would make that trade."
The Giants have tried to build around players like Belt, who bring a good glove and solid approach at the plate. But they have acknowledged in recent years that the game has left them by. Seeking right-handed power two offseasons ago, Bobby Evans swung trades for Andrew McCutchen and Even Longoria. That didn't provide what was hoped.
Farhan Zaidi is now in charge, and he may lead the charge for a change in Triples Alley. He told The Athletic that there's a lot of evaluation to be done, but he certainly understands how important the issue is. Zaidi's Dodgers led the league in homers last season, crushing 102 more than the Giants.
"The way teams are, as the surge in power numbers has become a bigger part of a winning formula for teams around the league, that's something we have to take a look at," he told The Athletic.
As Zaidi and others in management evaluate their choices, perhaps they'll find that moving the fences in will have unexpected benefits. Bruce Bochy has long felt that some of his hitters are impacted mentally by the harsh realities of their home park. Belt said it took him years to figure that part of it out, and it can mess with your swing when you leave San Francisco, too.
"I think what can happen if you're not careful -- and it happened to me when I was younger and I had to learn to get used to it -- it can not only put you in slumps, it can prolong slumps as well," he said. "Mentally, you know what should be a hit and you know what should be a home run, and when it doesn't happen time and time again, mentally that's hard to overcome."