I’ve seen a backlash on Twitter today, following the announcement that the Mariners were signing Corey Hart to a one-year deal. There were also some very happy fans.
Many people were confused as to why the Mariners would sign a player who was primarily used as a first baseman in 2012, when we have Justin Smoak. Some others are wary of his knees, which he had surgery on last January and missed the entire 2013 season.
But I’m here to tell you why signing Hart makes sense.
Hart is a two-time All-Star as an outfielder. The Milwaukee Brewers moved him to first base in 2012 because of injuries to Mat Gamel and Travis Ishikawa. Hart is an outfielder, primarily a right fielder.
The two knee operations are troubling, hence the one-year incentive-laden deal. It’s a low-risk/high-reward move by the Mariners. Hart’s doctors have cleared him and deemed him ready for action.
Hart could end up being AL Comeback Player of the Year.
Over the previous three seasons Hart played (2010-2012), Hart averaged 29 homers, 82 RBI and 87 runs scored. He will more than likely bat third (if Cano bats cleanup) or cleanup (if Cano bats third). Just the type of protection Cano needs.
He’s also a gap hitter – perfect for the spacious Safeco Field. He has 211 doubles and 33 triples so far in his career to go with his 154 homers.
Defensively, he is better than he gets credit for. His fielding % as a right fielder is .988, which ranks as the 16th-best of all-time (and 7th among active RF).
For those of you that are more into sabermetrics, Hart has a lifetime WAR of 16.0 and has an average RAR of 28.5 over the past six seasons.
Plus, he is a right-handed bat. Something the lefty-happy Mariners are in desperate need of.
So I guess the bigger question is: Why WOULDN’T we want Corey Hart?