Joe Sheehan on Corey Hart

By Jason Wojciechowski on January 18, 2011 at 11:05 PM

The blind spot in a lot of mainstream analysis has classically been a failure to recognize the value of "average" -- if "average" is about two wins above replacement, and wins are available on the free market at about $4M to $5M per, then an average player should cost you $8M to $10M. It's always a surprise to me when I see Joe Sheehan make these kinds of statements, then:

Fundamentally, I [Corey Hart is] (sic) a .260/.320/.460 player, not the All-Star he rated as in '10. Counting on him to be your fourth-best hitter seems like a problem.

Source: The Joe Sheehan Newsletter, Vol. II, No. 139, January 18, 2011

Looking at Hart's Fans projection on Fangraphs, the crowd (30 votes at this point) doesn't disagree: they've got him projected at .272/.331/.461 for 2011. That works out to a .344 wOBA. Is a .344 wOBA a problem for the fourth-best hitter on a team with championship aspirations?

Per Fangraphs, that wOBA would have placed Hart 37th in the National League, in the Drew Stubbs/Ike Davis/Marlon Byrd range. Here is a list of teams with four or more guys with a .344 wOBA or higher: Milwaukee (5); Arizona (4). That's it. Corey Hart would've been the 3rd-best hitter on the Giants, fourth-best on the Phillies, fourth-best on the Reds, and fourth-best on the Braves. These were the National League's playoff teams. (Note also that Fangraphs wOBA is not park-adjusted, so Hart's hitting, per StatCorner's RHB wOBA park factors, would look slightly better in three of these four parks.)

I've noticed Sheehan do this a lot, and while I attributed it to a lack of appreciation for "average" above, I suppose it's also possible that he simply hasn't adjusted to the new offensive frame of reference -- the 2010 National League scored 4.33 runs per game last year (per Baseball-Reference), down from 4.71 in 2007 and 5.00 in 1999 and 2000. The last time run-scoring was this low in the NL was 1992. A good hitter is not in 2010 what a good hitter was in 2007.