The Giants' ability to produce impact players from within has been central to their impressive success in recent years. The evolution of the Brandons from solid regulars to stars, and the development of another not very widely heralded prospect, Joe Panik, into a very solid starter are the most recent examples of this. The Giants have also gotten a bit lucky with their farm system. For example, although it is unlikely to look this way at the end of the season, Matt Duffy, a player about whom a year ago all but the most intense Giants fans had heard nothing, is quietly having a better year (.279/.324/.388) than the major star, Pablo Sandoval (.251/.317/.371), who he replaced. In an era that is more competitive, with more teams, and more safeguards against dominance by wealthier teams, the Giants continue ability to produce quality players from within is an extraordinary accomplishment and one that goes a long way towards explaining those three rings.
It is no surprise that a team that has won two of the last three World Series has a good farm system, but the discrepancy between how the system, and indeed the franchise, is perceived, and what it actually is remains significant. Posey and Sandoval are hardly unknown. The former was handily elected NL MVP and has ended both of his full seasons in the big leagues by catching the last strike of the World Series. He is one of the faces of the Giants and is poised to become one of the game's most visible and marketable stars Sandoval, for his part, has a colorful nickname, and was the MVP of the World Series last year. Belt, however, despite an equally colorful nickname remains virtually unknown outside of San Francisco. While Posey is generally known as a star player, Sandoval is still at least as well-known for his weight as for his hitting while Belt is probably still seen as a disappointment to many fans because like many players who derive much of their value from drawing walks, he is under-appreciated.
San Francisco Giant first baseman Brandon Belt has been the subject of some controversy as many Giants fans feel he has not been given a fair chance over the last season and a half while others believe he has been a disappointment. Belt, who began the 2011 season as the Giants’ top hitting prospect, spent most of 2011 moving back and forth from first base to the outfield, the starting lineup to the bench, and the big leagues and AAA. This year, Belt spent the first month or two of the season being moved in and out of the lineup before settling, at least for now, into the starting first baseman’s role