Despite an unsuccessful stint as the Chicago Cubs leadoff man, veteran outfielder Jason Heyward turned in his best season with the team in 2019.
Chicago Cubs Gold Glove outfielder Jason Heyward hasn’t quite lived up to the hype since signing that huge contract before the 2016 season. He would be the first to tell you that his time as a Cub has not been what he or anyone expected.
Still, the All-Star outfielder has just kept working to get better since then. We all saw how good Heyward could be when he was with the Cardinals in 2015. The pressure on him to perform has just seemed to grow every year since 2016.
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Heyward had by far his best year as a Cub in 2019. He batted .251 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI in 513 plate appearances. When you look closer at the numbers, it tells the real story. His 21 home runs and 62 runs batted in were his most since 2012. His .343 OPB was his best since his final year in St. Louis back in 2015. All the numbers showed good signs for things moving forward for the five-time Gold Glover.
The other story behind these numbers for 2019 was the fact that Heyward was forced into the leadoff spot. It seemed like anyone Joe Maddon put in the leadoff spot really struggled and Heyward was no different and why that the leadoff spot is the main area of concern for this offseason.
In the leadoff spot in 2019, Heyward batted .147 with four home runs and six RBI in 129 appearances. Those are some awful numbers for the guy tasked with getting on and setting the table for guys to knock them in.
Heyward spent most of his time in 2019 batting in the sixth spot with 142 appearances. In the sixth spot, Heyward was much better having a batting average of .289 with a .348 OBP. All these stats proved that Heyward was not the right guy for the leadoff spot.
With that, I don’t blame it all on Maddon as some people might because he had to try something because nothing was working with out of that spot in the order. What I did have a problem with was how long it took to finally take Heyward out of that spot. One hundred-forty two appearances in that spot are a lot and it showed he was not the right guy for that long before the team backed away from the move.
If nothing else, it makes you think what kind of year Heyward might have had if he never got forced into that spot that he did not belong in.
Looking forward to 2020 I fully expect Heyward to keep up the momentum that he created in 2019. Hopefully, the Chicago Cubs go out and get a true leadoff hitter this offseason. That will let Heyward go to work in a spot where he is much more comfortable and proven that he is much more productive out of.