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Giants’ Brandon Belt suffers fractured left thumb

A brutal development for the Giants as they get ready for their first playoff run since 2016.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies Photo by Michael Ciaglo-USA TODAY Sports

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt underwent an X-ray on Monday that revealed a fracture in his left thumb, a brutal development for the club that currently leads the NL West and owns the best record in baseball:

Belt suffered the injury while attempting to bunt during Sunday’s win over the Rockies. He stayed in the game to run the bases but was removed in the bottom of the seventh inning. While the 33-year-old might not be the MVP of the Giants’ incredible 2021 season — after all, he missed about six weeks with a knee injury earlier this summer — he’s been their hottest hitter for the last couple months, and his loss leaves a huge void in the middle of the lineup.

Belt is hitting .297/.394/.690 with 18 homers and 31 RBI since returning from the injured list on August 5, and he has a .349/.451/.721 slash line in September. He’s hitting .274/.378/.597 for the season and has 29 homers, the most by any Giants player since Barry Bonds. He’ll just narrowly miss out on becoming the Giants’ first 30-homer hitter since Bonds hit 45 in 2004.

While no one on the Giants’ roster is as red-hot at the plate as Belt has been in recent weeks, they do have a multitude of solid fill-in options at first base. Lamonte Wade Jr., who has been the club’s primary right fielder down the stretch, and Wilmer Flores could see time at the position over the next few games. Darin Ruf, who has an outstanding .268/.387/.512 slash line with 15 homers in 300 plate appearances this season, is currently on the injured list with a strained oblique but will likely draw the bulk of the starts at first if and when he returns.

Kris Bryant started 10 games at first base for the Cubs earlier this season, and it’s also possible that the Giants could opt to move him there while plugging in stronger defenders in the outfield.