Milwaukee Brewers’ rightfielder Corey Hart stepped up with arguably the best year of his career in 2011. While he didn’t hit the 31 home runs he had in 2010, and you can make a case for his overall season in 2007, the rightfielder delivered a .356 on-base percentage and his 26 home runs keyed a .510 slugging percentage a year ago. Now the Brewers just need him to keep it going.
The need for keeping it going has to be at the forefront of Brewer fans minds, because Hart’s breakout year of 2007 was followed by two mediocre years that made it look like he was falling off the map. This is not something the team can afford in the best of circumstances and a year where they’re without Prince Fielder and wondering how Ryan Braun will react to his tumultuous offseason is hardly the best of his circumstances.
If the Brewers are going to contend in the NL Central again, they’ll need players like Hart to step up. While he looks likely to miss the opening series against St. Louis next weekend after offseason knee surgery, he does appear on pace to play against the Chicago Cubs the following series.
Continuing with our spring training positional theme, let’s check in on the rightfield situation around the NL Central…
St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Beltran—The de facto replacement for Albert Pujols, as Lance Berkman moves to first base, Beltran is obviously not up replacing Albert, but he’s been a solid hitter for both power and contact almost every year since 2004.
Cincinnati Reds: Jay Bruce—One of the game’s underrated power hitters and a good complement to Joey Votto in this lineup.
Chicago Cubs: David DeJesus—After six years with OBP’s in the high .300s and respectable slugging percentage numbers, especially for a top-of-the-lineup hitter, DeJesus tailed off badly in Oakland last year. But going from Oakland Alameda to Wrigley Field is about as big a change for the better as a hitter can make.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Jose Tabata—At age 23, he’s hit .284 over the past two seasons encompassing over 700 at-bats. His plate discipline could be better, but what 23-year-old’s couldn’t? Tabata’s supposedly got some pop as well, but we haven’t seen evidence of it yet.
Houston Astros: Brian Bogusevic—He got his first season with some playing time and put up a nice .348/.457 line in 100-plus at-bats. Now he gets the chance to do it for a full year.