Will Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt become Giants stars?

Leading Off: Giants' Brandons could be long-term answers

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 - 6:10 pm

The Giants' long-term prospects at shortstop and first base could be bright.

Five players have been designated as starters at shortstop since Rich Aurilia left after the 2003 season. After J.T. Snow's nine-year run ended after 2005, starters at first base were Shea Hillenbrand, Lance Niekro, Ryan Klesko, John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa and Aubrey Huff, who was great in 2010 but finished the next year.

Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt could end the parade at those positions.

They are young, were called up after short minor-league stints and shoulder high expectations. They also developed into important, if unpolished, parts of the team's 2012 World Series championship.

Beer-time conversation focused on both as the season progressed: dialogue salted with hope (spring training), concern (Crawford's early-season defensive lapses and Belt's power deficit), expectation as they began producing more consistently and, finally, satisfaction as they helped the Giants win another title.

Defensively, Crawford is among the league's best, and solid play at shortstop is a key for a team dependent upon pitching and defense. His hitting has improved, and expect him to be a tougher out and decent run producer.

Belt, all goofy exterior and self-deprecation, is a 25-homer, 90-RBIs star waiting to bust out.

If that or something akin to it happens, we could see far fewer new faces at short and first for many seasons.

What to watch

NBA, Kings at Orlando, 4 p.m., CSNCA: The second of back-to-back games before the Kings end their trip Friday.

Today's poll

Will Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt become Giants stars?

• Crawford will

• Belt will

• Both will

• Neither will

Vote above or leave your comments in the comment field; or, go to www.sacbee.com/sports

Tuesday's results

Should the 49ers allow Alex Smith a say in where he might be traded?

• Yes, he's been a good soldier for the team: 42%

• No, it's a business: 51%

• They should keep him 7%

Total votes: 227

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