Chicago Cubs: Should Jason Heyward continue to get regular starts?
Jason Heyward is without a doubt the most controversial player for the Chicago Cubs to this date. Most fans either love him or hate him. There really is no in between.
We all know the story. Jason Heyward was the biggest name on the free agent market in the winter of 2015. He chose to sign with the Cubs, who were trending up after a 97 win season, a total not many predicted in April.
He signed an 8-year, $184 million deal. Needless to say, he hasn’t exactly lived up to that kind of paycheck.
He was hard to watch in 2016. He posted the worst numbers of his career, slashing .230/.306/.325.
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Still a Gold Glove winner
However, he won his fourth gold glove of his career. The Cubs won the World Series if you’re just checking in as well. And is known for a speech during a rain delay in Game 7 of the World Series that many of his teammates say helped get the Cubs the historic do-or-die victory. Altogether, he cashed in $21.6 million last season.
I’m not sure what kind of numbers you have to produce in order earn that kind of money, but to me, it’s nearly impossible.
This season, Heyward hasn’t been eye-opening better but good enough, maybe?
Decent start, slow finish
The right-fielder slashed .279/340/.408 in April but unfortunately missed time due to an injury and missed the first few weeks of May. He returned May 21st and played regularly until June 18th when he suffered another minor injury that forced him to miss over two weeks. In that time Heyward slashed just .263/.295/.434.
Since his return on July 4th, Heyward has slashed .260/.327/.357. For a guy of this kind of lucrative contract, it’s not good enough, despite his numbers increasing compared to last season.
Some positives to note however are the fact that his underachieving play as a Cub hasn’t become a major distraction. So, he’s not Milton Bradley.
He also continues to be very good defensively, rarely making any errors and making great diving catches in right field almost weekly.
Deserving of starting everyday?
And finally, despite his mediocre numbers, his strikeout percentage is just 14.1 percent.
But does he deserve to start every day? Right now, he needs to be in the lineup for defensive reasons. I do believe he should bat eighth in the lineup though.
Javier Baez has played wonderfully since the All-Star break (.297/.347/.541 since July 14th) and needs to be somewhere between 5-6-7 in the lineup, in my opinion. I’m not one to complain about Manager Joe Maddon’s daily lineups, but we all have our opinions. Moving Heyward down to the bottom of the lineup is the No. 1 tweak I’d make.
Heyward is set to make $28.1 million after his signing bonus this season. If the Cubs make a postseason run like last season, Heyward will have to get more than five hits (batting average of .104 in the 2016 postseason).
All this said he’s trending up after a three-run home run against the New York Mets Thursday night in the Cubs sweep.
He’ll look to take that momentum into a crucial three-game series with the rival St. Louis Cardinals