For nine years, Milwaukee Brewers fans saw a lot of Corey Hart. While it wasn’t always easy, he was one of the better Brewers of the past decade, amassing 154 home runs while slugging .491 with a .824 OPS. He was one of the most counted on bats during their playoff runs. Now entering his second season away from the Brewers and first season with the Pirates, fans should get used to seeing Hart yet again.
Earlier this winter, Hart signed a low-risk deal to compete for a backup role, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sees bigger things ahead for Hart. Instead of just competing for time, Hurdle has seen Hart a lot in the past and he views him as a big contributor, telling MLB.com’s Tom Singer, “He feels healthy…re-energized and looking forward to the opportunity. He has the offensive potential to be a very productive player for us.”
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Health has always been the key word for Hart. He missed the entire 2013 season while dealing with two separate knee surgeries. Last season with Seattle, things were not much better as he was never himself. He played in just 68 games batting a career low .203 while he constantly battled injury.
During his last healthy season, Hart was very productive. While playing his first season at first base, Hart slugged 30 home runs had an .841 OPS and looked to be a productive, long-term replacement for Prince Fielder, but that never happened.
Still just 32 years, old Hart has potential to be a key piece of the Pirates offensive puzzle. His knees may not allow him to play full time in the outfield any longer, but if he is on his game he could surely compete with Pedro Alvarez for time at first. While it will be tough to face him often on the other side, it would be nice to see a productive Hart get back to the player showed he could be.