Jason Heyward Is Back

Heyward 2017.jpg

Heyward (center) is greeted at home plate by his teammates following his first inning three-run home run Monday night in Pittsburgh.

After being labeled a free agent bust by pundits and fans alike one year ago, the J-Hey Kid is showing us all just what $184 million can buy. 

Let’s face it, Jason Heyward had a pretty bad season in 2016. After signing the biggest contract of his young career, the Cubs right fielder struggled to find success in his new home. Coming off of the 2015 season in which he had a career-high .293 batting average for the St. Louis Cardinals, armchair GM’s everywhere declared Jason Heyward to be the biggest bust of 2016.

In spite of his personal struggles, Heyward still won a Gold Glove and, more importantly, a World Series. But aside from his now legendary speech to his teammates during the rain delay of Game 7, Heyward failed to make a significant contribution to the Cubs’ stat line.

After the champagne showers and parades concluded, Heyward immediately got to work fixing his swing. Fans waited with bated breath for any signs of improvement for the once highly touted Braves rising star. Videos surfaced of Heyward taking batting practice, inspiring many think pieces from observers and insiders from ESPN to MLB Network alike. Then spring came and went, and Heyward still looked as though he would suffer similar issues at the plate going into 2017.

Well, it’s still early, but if his recent play is any indication, the kid’s alright.

That’s a nice sight, isn’t it?

If the one highlight doesn’t convince you, just look at the stats. The Cubs have played 18 games in this young season, and the difference is pretty obvious.

Here are Heyward’s numbers through his first 18 games in 2016:

.221/.338/.265, 0 HR’s, 9 RBI, 17 SO’s, 11 BB’s, 3 doubles.

And here’s Heyward’s stats through the same amount of games in 2017:

.294/.342/.456, 3 HR’s, 16 RBI, 11 SO’s, 4 BB’s, 0 doubles, 1 triple.

The strikeouts are a little high for comfort, but the drop in walks won’t matter if Heyward continues hitting. He currently leads the Cubs in batting average and RBI. Perhaps he won’t end the season as the team’s best hitter. But if Jason Heyward hits half as well the rest of this season, it’ll be more than enough for a Cubs lineup loaded with power.

The Cubs continue their series against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET/6:05 CT. Kyle Hendricks (1-1, 6.19 ERA) looks to get some revenge against Gerrit Cole (1-2, 4.70 ERA) in a rematch of their previous matchup two weeks ago at Wrigley Field. Hopefully, Jason Heyward continues his hot hitting and sends a ball or two into the Allegheny.

 

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Adam Cipinko @Cipinko5

 

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