Posts Tagged ‘Corey Hart Syndrome’

Corey Hart Syndrome: A Study

Before I explain what Corey Hart Syndome is (CHS for short), let me explain why I named this crippling fantasy disease after a now useless outfielder. Last year, Corey Hart was an “it” guy in fantasy baseball. He was coming off back-to-back 20-20 seasons. Hitting second behind oft-mentioned Rickie Weeks and in front of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, on the precipice of the mythical Age-27 Season, Hart was primed for ridiculous numbers, and without hyperbole people were expecting somewhere along the lines of .290, 30 homers, 30 steals, 120 runs, 90 RBI. That good. He didn’t do that, but CHS had already set in.

The First Corey Hart

You see, I discovered Corey Hart in the middle of his first 20-20 season after injuries to some of my veterans, kept him the starting lineup and watched him go. He was a streaky player, but since I had no one else, the numbers were there at the end of the year (24 HR, 23 steals, a .295 average with 80+ R and RBI) , so it didn’t bother me. I kept him for 1, he was generally lauded as a bargain and I was excited about him in 2008. However, I also had OF depth. I kept Curtis Granderson as well, had Jeff Francoeur, Grady Sizemore, Nick Swisher Jay Bruce, picked up Shin-Soo Choo midseason. I had options every day on who to play, who to bench. This is a good thing, as it lets you ride the hot hand and hopefully gain the most stats as possible from the position, not necessarily the player.

Hart ruined this strategy, however. He developed CHS, and became my hands-down least favorite player to own. At this point you’ve probably either stopped ready because I haven’t actually said what CHS is, or you’re still reading and dying to know. Here it is:

Eight different times last year, Hart had a streak of going four or more games with zero home runs, zero RBI, and

CHS-afflicted Corey Hart (right) engaging in an epic triple high-five

zero steals. At first, that’s not a big deal. But think about that. Even when a player is slumping, he picks up an occasional ground-ball RBI or sac fly. Or he gets hit by a pitch and decides to steal a base. He doesn’t do that. Ever. What’s worse is he’ll end the streak with a two-homer game (did it twice), a two-steal game (did it once), or, the most glaring example, ending a 14-game streak in which the only fantasy contributions he had was a grand slam and an RBI single. That’s right. 13 out of 14 games. One RBI, no HR, two runs (from a number two hitter! Behind Braun and Fielder), one steal, two runs. So I benched him, as any fantasy owner would. What did he do? Hit three homers and drive in 7 runs in two games.

“Okay Ethan, calm down, that happens to everyone,” you’re saying. True. Everyone goes through a prolonged point at some point in a season. The thing is, they break out of that slump and do well. Not Hart. What did he follow that little explosion (all on my bench obviously) with? Four hitless games. 26 ABs and seven homerless games . No steals. So he found himself on my bench again. What did he do then? Belt a two-run homer in consecutive games of course.

There are two potential lessons one could take from this. One is to never bench Corey Hart. Another is to never own Corey Hart, and let him piss off your league mates. Corey Hart may be a 20-20 guy for every year of his career, but to me, he’s worthless. It doesn’t matter what his stats are, you’ll never see any of them count. And while you’re starting him and he’s not doing anything, your other players are producing on the bench. It’s maddening infuriating, and not worth your effort.

Why do I bring this up? Well, CHS, much like Lou Gehrig’s Disease, doesn’t actually only apply to Corey Hart. Yes, he was the first person I noticed to be afflicted with this condition, but he’s certainly not the only one. Here are some others this year whose bloated stat lines are never going to be seen while being started:

Chris Young, OF: CHS is most common among outfielders because there are so many useful ones. Chris Young has a fantastic stat line thus far this year: .281, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 11 R, 2 SB. Maybe not fantastic, but way above his projected value. However, he has two games with five RBI and one with four RBI, and three of his four dingers came in those games. His most recent 5-RBI effort came after a streak of 14 consecutive homerless games. Mixed into that streak was a five-game hitless streak and only one RBI in the 10 games leading up to his outburst. I had already dropped him of course.

Josh Willingham, OF: His three-homer, four-steal line is nice, but unless you’re Nostradamus, which I doubt, you saw maybe one of those homers on your team, and probably maximum two steals. Why? Because in back-to-back games on April 11 and 12, he hit two homers and drove in six runs. Before that, there was absolutely no reason to own Josh Willingham. Ironically, since then, there has still been absolutely no reason to own Josh Willingham, despite his still-too-high ranking of 75.

Kosuke Fukudome – One could argue that the second-coming of Tsuyoshi Shinjo isn’t fantasy relevant, but he’s made his case on the surface to be rostered. Beneath the surface though, he has a dangerous case of CHS. After hitting a grand slam in his last game, he has four homers and 15 RBI with a stolen base. However, I love consistency, which Fukudome lacks. He’s earned all of his RBI in only seven of his 24 games, including five multiple-RBI games. If you decide you have better options than him and he’s a bench guy, you’re rarely going to pick up a cheap RBI on an off day because of his all-or-nothing nature.

This is more of an annoyance than an actual disease, but if you have OF depth, you want to avoid these guys, since they are useless to you. If you only have four OF, then by all means, roster them, start them, and try not to pay too much attention on a day-to-day basis.

Note: I should clarify that CHS is not the same as CHD, Corey Hart Disease, a rare but fly condition of being incapable of exposing one’s eyes after sundown. Here’s the sad explanation of this disease: