Worth The Hype? A Look At Jason Heyward
By Tommy Rancel //
A mid-season power outage (which coincided with a thumb sprain) left Jason Heyward short of the power expectations some had for the windshield-shattering prospect. Before his original thumb injury (which occurred in lay May), Heyward smashed nine home runs in his first 158 plate appearances with a .580 slugging percentage. Post-injury, he hit nine home runs in 485 plate appearances and slugged just .414. Even with a few nagging injuries, the man-child posted a slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) of .277/.393/.456 with 52 extra-base hits over his first 623 major league plate appearances.
Despite having a batting average below .280, Heyward displayed excellent on-base skills with an OBP of near .400. His lack of age and experience did not prevent him from showing a a mature batting eye, walking nearly 15% of the time. While his batting average came it at .277, Heyward was very successful when putting the ball in play.
His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) of .335 was well above the league average which falls around .300. Normally, when a player hits for such a high BABIP it is a cause for concern in regards to regression; however, in the case of the athletic and hard-hitting Heyward regression is not automatic.
Heyward maintained a higher-than-usual BABIP with a relatively normal line drive rate. Sometimes when a player hits an unsustainable amount of line drives, a quick and steep regression is likely to follow. In this case, the J-Hey Kid had a high BABIP with a large amount of groundballs. For a player without speed (remember back to our article on Joey Votto) this could be a problem. Meanwhile, Heyward has good speed even though large amounts of steals have never been a part of his game. That said, Heyward could still see some batting average fluctuation.
Some owners may have concerns about Heyward’s durability. In addition to the thumb sprain that landed him on the disabled list, he also battled some knee and groin issues The good news is in the 320 plate appearances after his stint on the disabled list. he hit .302 with seven home runs.. Even if he becomes a player who takes an annual 15-day vacation because of nagging injuries, the level of production when healthy makes up for it.
Though he is no longer the unknown phenom, Heyward is one of the most exciting young players in baseball. And though he did not take many steal attempts, the potential for a 25HR/15SB season is still there. Even with the lingering thumb issue, target him in the mid-rounds of your draft as a solid OF2 or OF3 option depending on the size of your league.