Brandon Belt batting second
Speaking of players showing up when it matters …
I know what some of you are thinking – Why wouldn’t Brandon Belt hit second? Look at the stats, he was one of the Jays’ best hitters this year. Surely, of all the mistakes John Schneider made, this was not one of them.
I am going to put this as delicately as I can: 2023 Brandon Belt was one of the most shameless stat-padders in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Yes, he put up a very impressive .858 OPS this season. And yet, here are some statistics which are not included in OPS:
Belt hit .208/.315/.705 with runners in scoring position this year; with runners in scoring position and two outs, he was even worse, slashing .194/.310/.643. In high leverage situations, defined by the potential impact which success or failure in a situation will have on the outcome of the game, Belt slashed .209/.333/.721 with three home runs and 15 RBI. In fact, over the entire season, batting almost exclusively in a run producing position, Belt had only seven RBIs in the seventh inning or later when the score was within two runs either way.
In other words, not only was Brandon Belt not one of the best hitters on the team, but any time it actually mattered, he was one of the worst. Unsurprisingly, Belt went 0-8 with five strikeouts in the two playoff games.
For John Schneider to pencil Belt’s name into the two-spot not once but twice in the most important games of the season – despite a full season’s worth of evidence that he is essentially Bradley Zimmer in moments that matter – was little more than a sacrifice at the altar of subjective statistics which don’t actually measure the things which help a team win games.