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MVBrewer #9: Corey Hart

When you consider how Corey Hart's season started, the numbers he finished with are pretty impressive. An oblique injury forced Hart to open the season on the DL and prevented him from making his 2011 debut until April 26, the Brewers' 23rd game. Even after missing all that time (or perhaps because of it) he struggled in his first month, posting a .237/.275/.329 line while being held homerless in his first 21 games.

On May 23, though, Hart turned his season around in a hurry. He hit his first three home runs of the season in the same game against the Nationals, then added another the next day. From that point on Hart was a .293/.370/.543 hitter with 26 home runs.

Each of those numbers are notable, but Hart's steadily climbing OBP might be the most encouraging of them. Despite appearing in just 130 games in 2011 and spending much of the season batting ahead of the Brewers' most dangerous hitters Hart drew a career-high 51 walks. Since his poor 2008 season, Hart's OBP has gone up each year:

Season BB% OBP
2008 4.3% .300
2009 9.1% .335
2010 7.3% .340
2011 10% .356

Despite the fact that he missed a month, fWAR lists Hart as the Brewers' third most valuable player this season. Unfortunately, his frequent defensive misadventures in right field negate a bit of his value: He demonstrates consistently poor instincts in the field, taking bad routes that turn mundane plays into challenging catches and potentially catchable balls into extra base hits. The Brewers could probably be well served by moving Hart to first base, but that's something they do not appear willing to consider.

If the Brewers hadn't signed Hart to a long term deal during the 2010 season, he'd be a free agent this winter. Instead he's under contract for two more seasons, earning $9 million in 2012 (a $2.5 million raise) and $10 million in 2013. He has a no-trade clause that allows him to block trades to 15 teams.

Best Game

It's already been mentioned once but on May 23 Hart drove home seven of the Brewers' eleven runs in a blowout win over the Nationals, becoming the first Brewer since 2003 to go deep three times in the same game.

Here's the video of the homers: