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James Jerry "J.J." Hardy, a native of Tucson, Ariz., is the starting shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers, who took him in the second round of the 2001 amateur draft. A relatively middle-of-the-road player entering the 2007 season, Hardy became an immediate fan favorite in Milwaukee after hitting 15 home runs by the end of May, a performance that earned him his first All-Star Game appearance, as a reserve behind starter Jose Reyes.
Hardy was essentially handed the starting shortstop position at the beginning of Spring Training of 2005, even before he had even set foot on a major league field and even after coming off a 2004 season that Hardy spent inactive from a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum. So it was on April 4, the first game of the season, that J.J. Hardy made his major league debut and also tallied his first career hit.
But after the first three games, the first part of the season was not smooth sailing for Hardy. Although he displayed the solid defense he was advertised for, he struggled at the plate, hitting just .143 in April, .218 in May, and .188 in June and did not hit his first career home run until June 11.
But Hardy improved his numbers after that, finishing the season with a .247 average with nine home runs and 50 RBIs.
Hardy was poised for a much improved season the next year, having hit four home runs with a batting average of .281 already in the first month of the season. But on May 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies, Hardy was injured while sliding awkwardly into catcher Sal Fasano on a play at the plate.
The diagnosis was a severe ankle sprain, and although the sprain heeled, Hardy was troubled by the tendon, which consistently popped out of place during physical activity, so Hardy elected to have season-ending surgery on the ankle.
Hardy announced his return with authority in the first series of the season, going 3-for-4 on opening day and 5-for-12 on the series with a home run and two runs batted in.
During a five-game stretch from April 19–23, Hardy hit five home runs, and on May 12, Hardy drove in a career high five runs in a 12-3 Brewers' win over the New York Mets.
By the end of May, Hardy was leading the National League in both home runs (15) and runs batted in (46). His production cooled off after Ryan Braun was called up and inserted in between Hardy and Prince Fielder, theoretically because Hardy, a ferocious fastball hitter, wasn't seeing nearly as many anymore.
However, Hardy still finished second behind Jose Reyes in the All-Star voting and was chosen by his peers as a reserve in the Midsummer Classic, when he and teammate and fellow infielder Prince Fielder will make their first All-Star appearances.
Before 2007, Hardy was seen as strictly a defensive shortstop, though he had been known for being an above average hitter in the minor leagues. He has gold glove potential in his fielding and has drawn numerous comparisons to former Brewers' shortstop Robin Yount.
At the plate, Hardy feasts on fastballs. He is mostly a contact hitter but rarely misses an opportunity to capitalize on a pitchers' mistake, which could make him one of the better power hitting shortstops in the game.
- Selected by Milwaukee Brewers in the 2nd round of the free-agent draft (June 5, 2001 - signed July 16, 2001).