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Milwaukee's Corey Hart: How Far Will the Outfielder Fall in 2011?

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 28:  Corey Hart #1 of the Milwaukee Brewers breaks his bat while batting against the New York Mets on September 28, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Bryan CurleyCorrespondent IFebruary 23, 2011

I’ll give Corey Hart credit. He rebounded from a disappointing 2009 season and made himself relevant again.

At the risk of understating his fine 2010 season, he was actually more than relevant. If you were fortunate enough to own Hart last year, you were rewarded with a .283 batting average, 91 runs, 31 home runs, 102 RBI and seven steals. Those numbers were good enough for Yahoo to rank him as their 25th best outfielder heading into the 2011 season and for ESPN to make him the 24th outfielder taken in their first experts mock draft.

As you might have guessed by now, I do not like Hart as much. While the numbers he posted last year were certainly worthy of top 25 outfielder status, I’d be shocked if he produced them again.

Let’s take a look at Hart’s power numbers first. His 31 home runs were seven more than his previous career high of 24. This total was a result of Hart’s abnormally high HR/FB rate, which was a career-high 16.8. For comparison sake, Hart posted HR/FB rates of 9.9 and 8.8 in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and since Hart is unlikely to maintain this rate in 2011, you can expect fewer home runs from him.

As for Hart’s RBI totals, it’s unrealistic to expect over 100 RBIs again, as he’s likely to bat second for the Brewers. The under-.300 OBP duo of Carlos Gomez and Yuniesky Betancourt shouldn’t even sniff the top of the order. The power of Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee will be needed in the middle of the order so that leaves Hart as the team’s No. 2 hitter, which will limit his RBI opportunities.

I am also concerned about Hart’s stolen base potential. Once a 20+ SB threat he only stole seven bases last year and 11 the year before. His stolen base efficiency has also dropped as he’s been caught six times in each of the past two years. Even though new manager Ron Roenicke likes to run, you can be sure that he won’t want Hart getting caught stealing before Braun and Fielder come to the plate, which probably means fewer opportunities.

I’m also not falling for his .283 batting average because, going into last season, Hart was coming off two years where he batted .268 and .260. Hart is someone who strikes out a lot (25.1 percent of the time), which makes it hard for him to maintain a high batting average.

So what do we have with Hart? We have an outfielder with some pop who should give you a good chunk of runs. His batting average fluctuates too much every year and nobody will ever mistake him for a .300 hitter. His days as a contributor in steals are over and his lineup position will inhibit his RBI total.

Call me skeptical, but you can do better than Hart for your third outfielder.

2011 Fantasy Projection

.275 BA | 86 R | 22 HR | 74 RBI | 8 SB

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