When I did my 2010 season preview for the Brewers, one of the main players I focused on was Corey Hart.
Hart was coming off his second consecutive disappointing season and was at the forefront of trade talks. I heard many Brewers fans interested in a trade that would have sent Hart to the New York Mets for John Maine.
One of the biggest red flags surrounding Hart going into this season was his inability to drive the ball for power. There is a big difference between a .300 hitter who only hits singles and one who can deliver extra base hits regularly.
A very good stat to track that is ISO, or Isolated Power. Isolated Power is a hitters slugging percentage subtracted by his batting average. In 2007, Hart's first full season, he posted a very impressive .244 ISO. After that, it seemed like Hart's power was lost for good. In 2008, Hart's ISO dropped to .191. Although a .191 ISO isn't bad for a corner outfielder, it was a drop off from his very impressive 2007 numbers.
In 2009, his power numbers only got worse. In 419 at bats, Hart had 109 hits. Of those 109 hits, only 39 of them went for extra bases (24 doubles, three triples and 12 home runs). His ISO dropped another 33 points from 2008 to .158.
Then 2010 came. In 195 at bats this season, Corey Hart has 50 hits. Although hitting just .256 on the year, it's a very loud .256. Hart has 28 extra base hits. He leads the National League in home runs with 17. His .585 slugging percentage ranks 3rd in baseball. His ISO stands at .329, which is the best in the majors.
His patience at the plate is also encouraging. Hart's on base percentage currently sits at .335. Although that's nothing to write home about, it is 79 points higher than his batting average. He has drawn 23 walks this season. He is walking 10.4% of the time, which is 1.3% more than 2009.
There is a lot to be excited about with Corey Hart. This is a very pleasant surprise considering where Hart was after last season. Through nearly 200 at bats, there is evidence to think Hart can keep this up. He is very important to the success of the Milwaukee Brewers; this year and in the future. It's very easy to forget Hart is just 28 years old. He is not free agent eligible until 2012, although he would likely get a nice raise after this season.
The Brewers will have to look at the situation and figure out if Corey Hart is in their future plans. It's a nice problem to have after many had Hart's ticket punched out of town months ago.