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Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward continues to do the little things during struggles at the plate

Apr 2, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) is congratulated by right fielder Ben Zobrist (18) and center fielder Jason Heyward (22) after hitting a three run home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Seung-Hwan Oh (not pictured) during the ninth inning of opening night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) is congratulated by right fielder Ben Zobrist (18) and center fielder Jason Heyward (22) after hitting a three run home run off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Seung-Hwan Oh (not pictured) during the ninth inning of opening night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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While the Chicago Cubs’ Jason Heyward tries to find his way at the plate, the rest of his game doesn’t take a night off. His hustle on the basepaths on Sunday night gave the team a chance. Defense, baserunning and speeches. Whatever it takes.

I don’t think there’s any question that the Chicago CubsJason Heyward has been a “bust”, at least as far as the money he’s being paid for the performance he’s had. But from his Gold Glove defense to his speech during the rain delay during Game 7–Heyward is doing all he can while he tries to solve his woes at the plate. Some won’t find that to be enough. But others can see the value in what he brings–albeit taking out the massive payday he’s getting.

Using the season opener isn’t the best example as few Cubs were able to generate solid at-bats throughout the night. Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras were the only two Cubs on the night to have a multi-hit game–with Contreras getting the big three-run blast in the ninth to tie it. But it was the hustle play of Heyward that kept the door open for the Cubs.

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With Ben Zobrist on first, Heyward chopped a ball that looked like a sure double play towards Matt Carpenter. But a juggle as he looked towards second then that lead to a drop. By the time he recovered, Heyward slid headfirst into the bag to beat the throw. It didn’t seem like much at the time until the next batter Contreras homered. Without Heyward, it would have only been 3-2. Maybe Contreras doesn’t get the same pitches with two outs.

These are the little things that Heyward has done since he arrived in Chicago that have kept him on solid footing with some fans. But for $184 MM, he’s going to need to turn things around at the plate–and soon. Especially if the Cubs struggle to score runs at any point and he still isn’t hitting.

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His speech in Game 7 was critical–at least as told to us by the Cubs–to winning the World Series. His defense was paramount to keeping runs off the board. But his new stance and approach need to pay dividends. I won’t ever question his commitment to this team or his effort. But if the results don’t start falling in line with the intangibles, Heyward will be a very expensive platoon player for Joe Maddon.

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