Fresh off a sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago Cubs are looking to make a significant rebound in the second half. And Jason Heyward has been at the forefront of their recent success.
The first half of the season came with major ups and downs for the Chicago Cubs. It’s no secret this team can be streaky, but this year has been particularly frustrating in that regard. Most people would not have guessed before the season started that this team would be only four games over .500 by the All-Star break. That was the reality, though.
Fortunately for the Cubs, the rest of the NL Central teams haven’t exactly been world-beaters, either. And so the club currently finds itself in first place, despite its frequent struggles. Things have been looking better as of late, though. And helping to lead the charge has been someone unexpected: Jason Heyward.
Throughout the Cubs’ worst stretch of baseball, Heyward was quietly the team’s best hitter, batting .326 in June and .310 so far this month heading into Friday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.
More from Cubbies Crib
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs are giving pitcher Javier Assad a deserved shot
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
On the season, Heyward is slashing a robust .275/.359/.474 with 15 home runs and 40 RBI. This is the player fans have been waiting for since he signed the richest contract in franchise history.
The veteran outfielder has only eclipsed 20 home runs once in his career, in 2012 when he hit 27, but he’s already at 15, and we’re only halfway through July. So he’s easily on pace to reach at least 20 this year.
Heyward is looking more and more like the player he was with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015. Perhaps what’s most impressive about his 2019 campaign is the fact that he’s been almost equally as productive on the road as he has been at home.
He’s batting .288 at Wrigley Field and .262 everywhere else, all while getting on base at an above-average clip. As a team, the Cubs have been mostly terrible on the road, so Heyward’s away performances have been one of the team’s few bright spots outside of Chicago.
Why has Heyward been so much better this season? Some will immediately point to the absence of Chili Davis, but Heyward had already struggled his first two seasons in Chicago before Davis was hired as the hitting coach. Sometimes confidence alone is enough. On the heels of a massive hot streak, the 29-year-old is not showing signs of slowing down, and that’s great news for the Cubs.
We’ve seen flashes of his potential over the past few years, but this is the first time during his Cubs stint that he’s had consistent and prolonged success. Heyward is finally performing at the level the Chicago Cubs expected of him in the beginning.