Chicago Cubs: The stats behind Jason Heyward’s start at the plate in 2018

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Jason Heyward
CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: Jason Heyward /

Jason Heyward is enjoying success offensively to start 2018 for the Chicago Cubs. Here’s a look at his offensive numbers thus far.

It is no secret that Jason Heyward has struggled offensively since joining the Chicago Cubs in 2016. In 244 games with the Cubs, Heyward is hitting .244 with just 20 home runs and 122 RBIs.

Heyward’s OPS with the Cubs (.674) is well below what he put up with the Atlanta Braves (.781) and St. Louis Cardinals (.797). His defense has been as advertised (he has won Gold Gloves in both seasons with the Cubs. His bat, however, has lagged behind.

Heyward Cubs’ career highs getting broken

That is until 2018, or so it seems at this point in the young season. Heyward’s bat is off to not only a solid start but a rather odd one as well.

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After posting an OPS of .631 and .715 in 2016 and 2017, respectively, Heyward’s currently stands at .762. This is far behind his career-high of .849 set during his rookie season in 2010. However, it is higher than his career average of .756.

Heyward’s batting average of .262 is identical to his current career mark. However, he already has two home runs and 14 RBIs in 18 games (61 at-bats). If he continues at this pace, he could easily smash his career high of 82 RBIs set in 2012.

Of course, Heyward continuing to drive in runs at his current pace is a lot to ask. With how deep the Cubs are, there is no reason for him to play every game. Ultimately, Heyward likely will not come close to playing 160 games.

Heyward’s splits are where his offensive statistics get interesting. In seven games (26 at-bats) at home, he is hitting just .231 with an OPS of .656. Of course, these are well below his overall career averages.

Splits gone wild

In 11 games (35 at-bats) on the road, however, Heyward is hitting .286 with an OPS of .838. These are both well above his career averages.

The fact that Heyward is hitting so much better on the road makes sense when considering the Cubs’ schedule. The team has played 11 of its 12 road games in favorable conditions for hitters.

This includes Miami (warm weather/retractable roof ballpark), Milwaukee (retractable roof ballpark) and Colorado (vast outfields, hitter’s ballpark).

Chicago has experienced a dreadful April to date, which has made baseball at Wrigley Field rather miserable for all involved. These numbers will be something to watch for once Chicago’s weather improves.

Coming up big when needed

Heyward’s splits with men on and the bases empty are quite possibly the most interesting. In 31 at-bats with no men on base, he is hitting just .097 (with a somewhat respectable .340 OPS).

In 30 at-bats with men on base, Heyward is hitting .433 with a whopping 1.204 OPS. His two home runs and 14 RBIs have all come with men on base.

Heyward has received a lot of flak due to his offensive struggles with the Cubs. His numbers do not necessarily pop off the page. Still, the Cubs have to like what he is doing in 2018, especially with traffic on the base paths.

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If Heyward continues producing at this level throughout 2018, the Cubs’ offense could become more dynamic than recent seasons. With warm weather in Chicago coming, Heyward’s numbers might just get better and better as the season goes on.