Now that Corey Hart has won his arbitration case, expectations for him are going to be higher than ever before (whether that’s fair or not is a topic for debate). As Adam McCalvy noted heading into the hearing, having to make a case in front of an arbitration panel is something the Brewers haven’t had to do very often — before Hart, there were only three other cases that had to be heard. How did those players fare in the season following their case? Let’s take a look.
Jim Gantner, 1992
Result: .246/.278/.313, 276 PA’s, 1 HR, 18 RBI
Gantner was entering what would be his last Major League season as a 39-year old, and truth be told, it’s a wonder he managed to play for so long considering his career numbers. At least it speaks to the loyalty the club showed to a Wisconsin native. While Gantner did have his best season in years the season prior, he predictably struggled in 1992 after the hearing — an atrocious OBP, pitcher-like slugging, and the lowest OPS+ of his career.
Mike Fetters, 1994
Result: 1-4, 2.54 ERA, 17 saves, 46 IP (42 games), 198 ERA+
Fetters was the second arbitration case in three years for the Brewers, and the team was able to win the decision. Making $400,000 in 1994, Fetters was an extremely effective closer in the strike-shortened season. He appeared in more games than anyone other than Graeme Lloyd and posted an ERA+ of 198 in 46 innings.
Jose Mercedes, 1998
Result: 2-2, 6.75 ERA, 32 IP (7 games, 5 starts), 1.594 WHIP
Mercedes won his case, but didn’t pitch like he deserved his new salary of over $1 million. He was only able to pitch in 32 innings in 1998, putting up a 6.75 ERA in 7 appearances (5 of them being starts). He carried a WHIP of 1.594 and walked (9) nearly as many as he struck out (11). His last game with the Brewers was May 4th of that year, and he was released that December.
So we have a mixed bag of results. Mercedes and Gantner stunk following their cases, but considering their respective histories, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Where Hart goes from here is largely up to him, and he seems to know it.