Corey Hart Saves Opening Day For The Mariners

It didn’t look great early – in a 3-0 hole before the Mariners even came to the plate in the first inning – but look at how it turned out!  Two home runs and four RBI from Corey Hart later, and here we are!

There are a couple of other, bigger stories coming out of yesterday’s game:

  1. It was Opening Day, even though the Mariners had already played six games prior.
  2. James Paxton strained his lat … or something.

I’m going to refrain from freaking out about Paxton’s injury – which took him out of the game in the top of the 6th inning even though he was straight up dealing – until we get the MRI and I’m given something to freak out about.  As for Opening Day, whoop-dee-doo, another Opening Day that doesn’t actually take place on Opening Day because Major League Baseball doesn’t care about black people Seattle.

The REAL story is Corey Hart, because God damn those were some amazing home runs!

Like the overall record of the Seattle Mariners, it’s probably a good idea to pump the ol’ brakes on getting too excited about Corey Hart.  Yes, it is VERY encouraging that he had his first multi-homer game a little over a week into the season, but I’d still like to see him hit a homer against a team not named the Angels.

I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on exactly what Corey Hart is going to be.  Feast or Famine.  Except, in his case, the times of famine are going to heavily out-weigh the alternative.  I’m thinking .225-.250 batting average, with a lot of strike outs, a lot of pop flies, and yes, a lot of home runs.  Where his Mariners career will be defined is WHEN he hits those home runs.  If he’s coming up in clutch situations – like last night, with two outs in the bottom of the third, down 3-1 with two runners on – and turning games around for us, then he’s going to be a hit (so to speak).  You don’t need a guy like Corey Hart to hit .320 and go on a bunch of long hitting streaks.  Obviously, if he did that, it’d be a huge bonus, but it’s unrealistic.  What you really need out of Hart is for him to maximize his opportunities with men on base.

The RBI stat isn’t an ideal indicator of how great a hitter is, but in this case it’s ALL I care about.  I’m not expecting Corey Hart to get on base at a .400 clip.  I don’t care if he works counts.  His BABIP is completely irrelevant to me.  If he’s going to hit around .250 – which I think is a foregone conclusion – I want him getting those hits when guys are on base.  Solo homers are an entirely worthless enterprise.  A meaningless single when the rest of the lineup is struggling on a particular day doesn’t do it for me.  For Corey Hart to be a success on this team, it’s ABSOLUTELY dependant upon the rest of the lineup performing around him:  guys getting on base ahead of him, or guys behind him knocking him in somehow.

This team has one superstar (Cano), one Steady Freddie (Seager), one wildcard (Almonte), a couple of younger guys with serious promise (Miller & Zunino), a few bottom of the lineup hitters you hope will contribute every now and then (Ackley, Saunders, Morrison), and two guys who are absolutely crucial to this team’s success (Smoak & Hart).

It’s been said so much, it’s gone from being cliché to part of the Public Domain:  Robinson Cano, by himself, will not turn this team around.  That’s true.  But, if we’re able to stack Smoak and Hart onto the fire, with Cano and Seager, and a couple of promising youngsters, an occasional positive contribution from the wildcard, and every now and then some production out of the bottom of our lineup … we can most certainly compete!  With anybody!  And especially in this division, which is losing key guys by the day to injury!

Of course, we’re going to need our rotation to hold it together.  And that means we’re going to need James Paxton to approach 30 starts this year.  But, that’s a freakout for another day …

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