Corey Hart is one of the new faces in Pirate camp this year, and, well, it feels kinda weird. Hart was a member of the Milwaukee teams that annually torched the Bucs of the late-2000’s, so the immediate memories of him aren’t particularly fond. Moreover, he’s coming off the worst season of his career — a .203/.271/.319 showing in Seattle, featuring only 6 home runs and a 70 wRC+ in 68 games.
However, it really wasn’t that long ago that Hart was hitting the ball as far as some of the biggest boppers in all of baseball. Take a look at where he ranked on home run & fly ball distance over the years, via Baseball Heat Maps:
Knee surgeries — on both right and left — forced him to miss the entire 2013 season. His right knee caused him trouble again in 2014, landing him on the disabled list for a month late in the year. Hart’s aching legs cost him a lot of baseball the past two years, and there’s reason to believe it sapped his power as well. His home run to fly ball ratio in 2014 was his worst ever and a steep decline from previous seasons:
When looking at his average fly ball distance above, that makes sense. A move from hitter-friendly Miller Park to pitcher-friendly Safeco Field likely played a role, but the injury problems shouldn’t be ignored.
Here’s a visual look at his fly ball/home run power over the past five years…