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Corey Hart’s having his best season – or is he?

Posted by Andy on July 12, 2010

Corey Hart is leading the league in RBI, has a 145 OPS+ (compared to a career mark of under 110 before this season) and needs only 4 homers in the second half to set his own career best.

He's got to be having the best year of his career, right? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Let's take a look at Hart's career Player Value table.

Year Age Tm Lg PA Rbat Rbaser Rroe Rdp Rfield Rpos Rrep RAR WAR Salary Pos Awards
2004 22 MIL NL 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
2005 23 MIL NL 63 -3 1 0 -1 -2 0 2 -3 -0.3 8/97
2006 24 MIL NL 256 -1 -4 -1 0 -2 -2 7 -3 -0.3 $329,500 97/83
2007 25 MIL NL 566 18 5 5 2 7 -4 16 49 4.9 $395,000 *98
2008 26 MIL NL 657 -5 2 6 1 -5 -8 18 9 0.9 $444,000 *9 AS
2009 27 MIL NL 472 2 2 1 0 0 -5 13 13 1.4 $3,250,000 *9
2010 28 MIL NL 324 18 -1 0 0 2 -4 9 25 2.5 $4,800,000 *9 AS
7 Seasons 2339 29 5 11 2 -0 -23 65 90 9.1 $9,218,500
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/12/2010.

The first number to focus on is WAR. In 2007, easily his best previous season, he finished with a WAR of 4.9, which is quite good. That was 27th among batters that season, and 3rd among right fielders. (If you're curious, Magglio Ordonez and Vladimir Guerrero were ahead of him.)

So far in 2010, Hart has posted a WAR of 2.5, quite good for half a season. That number is tied for 33rd best above all batters and is 4th among right fielders, behind Shin-Soo Choo, David DeJesus, and Nick Swisher.

Hart has played in 81 out of the Brewers' 89 games so far this year. If he keeps that pace and earns WAR at the same rate, he'd finish the season with about a 4.6 WAR, a shade below his 2007 value. That's hard to believe, given how well he has played this year plus the fact that he didn't even reach 600 plate appearances in 2007.

So why is Hart's WAR not blowing way past his 2007 number, given that the rest of his numbers are?

The answers like in the rest of the table above. His Runs from Batting in 2010 are already the same as they were in all of 2007. So that makes sense--he's already contributed as much with the stick this year as the entire 2007 season. He gets hurt in the other categories:

  • Runs from Baserunning are way down. This number considers stolen bases, caught stealing, and other base advances on plays such as wild pitches and passed balls. Hart isn't running nearly as much this year as he has in past year (no doubt, in part, because he's hitting more extra-based hits. Fewer times on first base leads to fewer stolen bases, for sure.) In 2007 he got +5 Runs from Baserunner but so far this year he's at -1.
  • Run from Reaching on Errors are also way down. In 2007, Hart had a fluke year in this area. He was 3rd in all of MLB with +5 Rroe. The only other players above him were Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones at +6. This year, Hart is at 0. (Side note: I don't know how Rroe is determined, but I notice it's possible to get a negative value--anybody understand how that is possible?)
  • Runs from Double Plays - Hart has already grounded into as many double plays this season (6) as he did in all of 2007. So he loses a couple of Runs there as well.
  • Runs from Defense - he loses 5 more runs here, as he was at +7 in 2007 and is only +2 s far this year.

So, one could argue that while Hart's performance with the bat has picked up significantly, every other aspect of his game has declined. If I had to guess, I'd bet that Hart's second half is similar with the bat but a little better in some of these other WAR categories, and that he'll finish the year closer to 5.0 WAR than 4.6

15 Responses to “Corey Hart’s having his best season – or is he?”

  1. nightfly Says:

    Hey... don't masquerade with a guy in shades, oh no.

  2. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't know how Rroe is determined, but I notice it's possible to get a negative value--anybody understand how that is possible?

    All those numbers are compared to average. Average in any category is worth 0 runs.

  3. John Q Says:

    It seems like most of Hart's improvement this year has come from his slugging percentage and most of that is from the HR. He has 21 already and his career high is 24. He's at 145ops+ for the year and his career ops+ is 111. It's going to be interesting to see if he can maintain that 145 pace or will he regress to his career mean.

    He was also batting behind Fielder and Braun for most of the year so that probably accounted for the large number of DP.

    What's interesting about Hart' season was there was talk in the beginning about playing him in a platoon role.

    Also, Braun was moved from the 6 hole to the 2 hole on June 11, so that might be interesting to see how that affects his season. His DP rate will most likely drop because of where he's batting. Also, his B.A. took a nice jump up since his June 11 switch.

    As of June 10, 2010, Hart was batting .261/.337/.592 mostly in the 6 hole. Since his move to the 2 hole as of July 11, 2010, he's hitting .288/.349/.569.

  4. Alan Says:

    Honest question here. Why are we putting undying faith in WAR's defensive value computations when most other sabermetric fielding statistics have been dismissed?

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I don't know if anyone puts undying faith in WAR's defensive computation (i.e., Total Zone). They should not. I also don't know that most sabermetric fielding stats have been dismissed. Why do you say that? I tend to look at multiple defensive stats, including Total Zone, as well as consider observational consensus, as well as my own personal opinion.

  6. Brewer 44 Says:

    Being a Huge Hart fan, I am loving this season. And just wanted to add a little bit of info from someone who follows the Brewers.

    Hart's surge starts on May 15. Where he hit 4 HR in 12 ABs. From May 15 to June 1 he hit 11 HR. This was all while batting in the 6th spot.

    He moved to the 2nd spot and then went on the 5th longest hitting streak in franchise history 20 games, he also had a 22 game hitting streak in 2007.

    This all from a player who won an arbitration case, fell apart in spring training, was benched for Jim Edmonds, almost run out of town, then forced to play because of injures on the Brewers.

    I personally believe that Hart's surge is directly responsible to his ability to not swing at the low outside pitch, which he can't hit (especially a slider). Since his all-star selection in 2008 he fell into a pattern of swinging at that pitch....alot and never even coming close to hitting it.

  7. John Q Says:

    My fourth paragraph @4 should say Hart not Braun.

  8. Andy Says:

    And did you mean what Hart did ON June 11 or AFTER June 11?

  9. Alan Says:

    Johnny Twisto, I'm talking about stats that try to round everything into single numbers. I grew up with Pete Palmer's Fielding Runs. A lot of people put faith in those numbers and they are entirely unused now it seems. I'm cautious about falling into the same trap.

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Fair point, I was just thinking of more current stats. I think your caution is well-warranted. I don't like it when people dismiss all new fielding metrics because they don't think defense can be measured. Of course it can be measured. But it's not as easy to measure as batting, and it's going to be very difficult to ever measure perfectly (whatever that means). It's important to be aware of what is being measured, and what the limitations of the various stats are.

    An advantage the new numbers have is the increased data and the increased peer-review. When Pete Palmer developed his numbers, he didn't have any actual information about where balls had been hit. And when he published, it was for a smaller audience that had no easy way of giving feedback. Now every ball is tracked, and the Internet is full of saber-savvy fans who can help point out flaws or suggest improvements in a defensive system. We're not there yet, but I think we're closer.

  11. Rick Bagnall Says:

    I'm not sure how much credence to lend Zone Rating. It's got Jason Bay as average to above-average, despite his decidedly pedestrian range (last I checked, the predominant Mariners platoon of Bradley/Saunders had 33% more total chances in about 83% of the total innings, and they're not even the best in the majors). But it lists Ichiro Suzuki as just barely above average, despite his phenomenal range (at one point, he had more total chances than Vernon Wells, who was playing center for the Jays). Sure, Bay plays the balls that he gets to almost flawlessly, but he doesn't get to all that many!

  12. John Q Says:

    The .261/.337/.592 was his line on June 10, 2010.

    The .288/.349/.569 are his current numbers as of July 11, 2010.

  13. BSK Says:

    Considering that defensive stats are still fairly new and untested, at least relative to pitching and batting stats, I think it's best we not seek ways to consolidate them to one number. I realize that for comparison's sake, having a single number like WAR or WPA is helpful.

    But when looking at defensive stats, I think it'd be better if we broke them out, looking separately at range, arm, what a player does with the ball (fielding it cleanly vs bobbling it vs booting it), and whatever else goes into it. All of that already goes into the super advanced defensive metrics, but I think looking at them individually might better serve us until there is more trust in them.

  14. Malcolm Says:

    If you really want to be 100% precise in your evaluation of a player, you'd better just watch every game he plays. No statistic is going to give a perfect reflection of a player's "value". Stats are meant to give you an idea of what kind of a player the guy is, but if you want an exact evaluation of Corey Hart you'd better buy season tickets to Miller Park (and be prepared to spend a lot of money on airfare).

  15. Josh Says:

    "I think it'd be better if we broke them out, looking separately at range, arm, what a player does with the ball " provides the fielding numbers b-ref uses but breaks them down into components: TZ (range), DP ability for infielders, and arm.