After acquiring Jason Heyward in the offseason from the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Cubs expected a lot more from him after giving him an 8-year contract worth 184 million. He’s struggled this season, only hitting .232 with seven homers and 45 RBIs. But will “The J-Hey Kid” clutch up in October baseball?
Jason Heyward has been an all around solid player in his seven-year career in the big leagues. There’s a reason the Atlanta Braves selected him with their top pick in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft. He possesses all the tools scouts look for.
Heyward is a great athlete, but in the game of baseball, there are some years where you are going to struggle. Well unfortunately for him, 2016 has been that year. He’s hit a career low in homers this season with only a handful of games left.
But will he perform in the playoffs when it matters the most? He’s hitting .375 in his last seven games, which is definitely a positive with only a few games left in the season.
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We know the talent is there, but when you get in a slump, it’s not easy to get out of it. Right now it looks like he could be getting out of that slump at just the right time.
The Cubs already have so many guys who contribute at the plate. They have the best record in the bigs, and that’s without the production of Heyward. How much better could they be if he starts producing when it’s most important?
When Heyward was with the Cardinals last year when they lost to the Cubs in the division series, he raked. He hit .357 for St.Louis in that series. He also hit .293 last season, but I’m not looking at that.
We know he’s been struggling with the bat this year, but it’s what he’s doing in the last seven games which stand out. He is starting to find his groove, and see the ball better. This groove could continue into the playoffs.
Let’s not forget about his glove. Heyward has played stellar defense for the Cubbies in right field. He’s been one of the reasons Chicago has been one of the best defensive teams in the Major leagues. His ability to track down balls in the alley is really a huge asset. His speed and athleticism in the outfield are huge.
Attitude is everything
In such a mental game like baseball, it’s very easy to get in your own head and get down on yourself. It’s also very easy to take what you do at the plate, into the field. That’s a recipe for disaster. Look at Yasiel Puig. He stormed into the majors a few years back, doing everything. Hitting home runs, stealing bases, throwing out runners from right field, you name it. But once he started to fail, he couldn’t take it.
Puig couldn’t figure out how to deal with failure. It really hurt him, causing him to ultimately being sent down to Triple-A by the Dodgers just a couple months back. Now he’s back with the big league club and producing, with the right type of attitude.
Will Heyward clutch up at the plate?
What I’m getting at is it would have been very easy for Heyward to get frustrated, take his anger from the plate out to the field with him. But he hasn’t. He knows that his role in the outfield is very important to the success of this Cubs team this season. In the end, if he clutches up at the plate when it matters most in the postseason, no one is going to care about what he did in the regular season.
I think the Cubs right fielder has a great chance to perform with the bat for Chicago in the playoffs. Even if he doesn’t, Jason Heyward’s defense alone will be a very important key to the Cubs hunt for a World Series title this October.