Hart is one of the top players on the team and is a huge reason why Milwaukee was able to make a legitimate run at the second Wild Card spot down the stretch, even though they eventually came up short. Hart batted .270 with 30 home runs, 83 runs batted in, 35 doubles, four triples and 91 runs scored in 562 plate appearances. However, after the All-Star break he batted .292 with 14 homers and 45 RBI.
The 30-year-old had surgery on his right knee last year during spring training to repair cartilage damage but he was able to recover much quicker than anticipated and only missed 13 games, which is impressive considering when he had the surgery.
During off-season workouts, Hart experienced swelling in the same knee and an MRI showed that he would need to undergo surgery once again. This time it will be to fix a defect in the joint surface, which will force him to miss the next few months of off-season workouts, spring training and the first six weeks of the season.
With Hart out the Brewers will be taking a huge hit on offense considering he hit the second most home runs on the team last year and is a proven major leaguer. Not to mention, Hart is known for getting into a groove in which he is capable of carrying a team offensively when everyone else appears to be slumping.
Milwaukee will most likely replace Hart with Mat Gamel, who was the starting first baseman at the beginning of the season last year until he injured his knee chasing a foul ball against the San Diego Padres on April 30. Gamel struggled at times but was starting to get in a rhythm before his injury. It is difficult to say how effective he will be for the Brewers this season but at least Milwaukee will have someone with experience playing the position to fill in for Hart. In only 21 games, Gamel hit .246 with one home run and six RBIs while striking out 15 times in 69 at-bats.
Of course, it is expecting a lot from Gamel to make up the same offensive production as Hart and this is where the real problem rests with the Brewers. Hart missing the first two months of the season could put a huge damper on their overall success and where they end up in the National League Central standings. There is a good chance Milwaukee could lose games without Hart, who has been known to win close ones with one swing of his bat. Not to mention, Hart provided great protection for Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez last season when he batted behind them.
Several players such as Rickie Weeks will have to step up their game regardless this season if the Brewers want to get back into the postseason. But now everyone on the team is going to have to go the extra mile in order to make up the production the Brewers will be losing without Hart in the lineup. The good news is Gamel has yet to show his true colors in the majors, which means he is due considering the numbers he has put up in the minors.