Wednesday, March 5, 2008

2008 Breakout Pick

My breakout pick for the 2008 MLB season is Corey Hart. Hart is a 26 year old rightfielder for the Milwaulkee Brewers. Last year he hit .293/.353/.539 over 140 games with 24 home runs and 23 stolen bases.

Hart was drafted out of high school and played his first professional games for the Ogden Raptors in 2000. He repeated the rookie level in 2001 at Ogden and dominated, with a .941 OPS and 11 homers and 14 stolen bases in 67 games. He split time between high A and AA in 2002, hitting 24 home runs combined. He spent a complete year at AA in 2003 and had an .807 OPS.

At 22 years old, Corey debuted in AAA, an made his major league debut the same year. While bouncing between the majors and AAA over the next two years, Corey's OPS' at AAA were .830 and .913. In 2006 Corey spent the majority of the season in the big leagues (his OPS at AAA was .951 for the 26 games he was down).

The Brewers had a bit of a glut of outfielders in 2006, with Carlos Lee, Brady Clark and Geoff Jenkins getting the majority of starts. But Hart managed to get 237 at bats and performed well (.283/.328/.468). Then in the offseason before the 2007 season, the Brewers allowed Carlos Lee and Brady Clark to leave, opening up a full time position for Hart in 2007.

This season, Hart will be back starting in the outfield and will get a prime spot in the lineup, batting in some combination with Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder, and Ryan Braun. I expect him to continue to hit well and to get a lot of opportunities to bat with runners on base. In a perfect world, the Brewers lineup would look like this:

1. Rickie Weeks - 2B - .374 OBP in 2007
2. JJ Hardy - SS - .323 OBP; .423 SLG in 2007
3. Ryan Braun - LF - .370 OBP; .634 SLG in 2007
4. Prince Fielder - 1B - .395 OPBP; .619 SLG in 2007
5. Corey Hart - RF - .353 OBP; .539 SLG in 2007
6. Bill Hall - 3B
7. Mike Cameron - CF
8. Jonny Estrada - C

JJ Hardy is a little low on the OBP for the #2 slot and Corey Hart might actually be better there, but for my fantasy team, I like Hart at the #5 slot so he can get more RBI opportunities.

So Hart is my breakout pick for this year and I expect his line to look like this:

.302/.362/.582 with 32 homeruns and 25 stolen bases.

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