The Chicago Cubs “stunned” the baseball free agency world last winter when they signed Jason Heyward to a megadeal. But things are off to a slow start for Heyward, and fans are getting anxious.
Jason Heyward was the Chicago Cubs’ prized acquisition this offseason, but things haven’t been going so well for him at the plate. It’s been pretty hard to watch, actually.
Heyward is a tremendous athlete, and I have no doubt that he’ll turn it around at some point. But right now? Right now Heyward couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat. A big name doesn’t always translate to big game. Despite his ongoing struggles at the plate, he continues to bat second in the order. And to this I ask, why?
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Heyward entered Friday night’s game batting a paltry .232. I’m generally not one to question Joe Maddon‘s logic, but this one has me befuddled. The Cubs have seen very little production out of Heyward in the two spot, but he has remained planted there, nonetheless.
When a player is struggling like this at the plate, days off are usually in order. Maddon has given Heyward the occasional day off, but it doesn’t seem to be working. He even got two days in a row before the Mets’ series.
Remember when Ben Zobrist was struggling batting in either the second or third spot in the order? Maddon dropped him down to the five-spot and he exploded. I get that there aren’t a ton of other options, especially considering all the injuries the Cubs are dealing with. But wouldn’t it at least be worth it to try something else?
At what point does Maddon just accept that Heyward has been dead weight at the plate? And that maybe his spot in the two-hole has been detrimental to the team. The move wouldn’t have to be permanent, but maybe it would help him to ease back into things. How many times have you watched him kill a rally by grounding into a double-play? How many times have you watched him strike out to end a game?
According to baseball-reference, Heyward is batting a pathetic .205 with runners on base, and just .227 with runners in scoring position. Chicago certainly expected more out of their $184 million man. Players can sometimes find it difficult to mentally adjust to being moved out of their regular spot. They see it as a sort of demotion. That could very well be a factor in his current situation.
Heyward is probably best known for his incredible defense, but his .293/.359/.439 slash line with the St. Louis Cardinals last season definitely played a significant role in his big payday with the Cubs. The Cubs struck out a lot last year, and they had hoped Heyward could continue to be someone that put the ball in play consistently. With men on base, Heyward has recorded 25 hits and 28 strikeouts. Not the kind of return the Cubs were hoping to get on their big investment.
As I wrap up, let me make one thing crystal clear. I think Jason Heyward is a great ballplayer, and I’m glad he’s a Chicago Cub. I’m not at all vying for him to grab some bench. I’m simply suggesting that it might be better for the team if Heyward dropped out of the top of the order for a while.
That’s all. I hate to be such a negative-Nancy, but these are troubling times in Cubbieland.
Like I said, I think he’ll turn it around. But in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to change things up a bit. It is, after all, a very long season. Maybe Heyward and Addison Russell should have a little competition. Since they are both hovering around .230, whoever hits for the higher average at the end of the season gets to wear number 22 in 2017. It’s really the only way.