The eight-year, $184 million blockbuster deal the Chicago Cubs awarded Jason Heyward hasn’t lived up to the hype. But, fear not – all is not lost. Yet.
To this point, veteran outfielder Jason Heyward spent his days as a member of the Chicago Cubs under 2016 World Series champion manager Joe Maddon. Maddon is a manager that prefers to keep his players loose and does not like to keep the batting order, or really anything, the same from day-to-day. Virtually every player, including Heyward, saw themselves in multiple lineup positions throughout the season.
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Maddon’s ever-changing lineup card may work for some people, but J-Hey was not one of them.
The tall left-handed bat found himself hitting in every spot but third and fourth throughout the 2019 season. The spot you bat in the order can change how you are pitched to, how many guys are on base and your overall comfort level at the plate.
In 2019, Jason Heyward benefitted from hitting in the middle of the order and struggled greatly in the top of the order. More specifically, Heyward succeeded when hitting fifth and sixth while struggling in the leadoff spot.
- First: (33 Games) .147/.252/.302 with a .554 OPS
- Second: (2 Games) .600/.600/.600 with a 1.200 OPS – 2 games is not a big enough sample size
- Fifth: (20 Games) .343/.453/.557 with a 1.011 OPS
- Sixth: (39 Games) .289/.348/.507 with a .855 OPS
- Seventh: (36 Games) .262/.349./.421 with a .770 OPS
- Eighth: (12 Games) .242/.390/.394 with a .784 OPS
- Ninth: (5 Games) .125/.222/.125 with a .347 OPS
The four spots in bold have large enough sample sizes to where the Cubs front office will see trends and hopefully adjust Heyward’s usage accordingly. Heyward was awful in the leadoff spot while putting up great numbers in the middle of the order.
The Cubs brass is evolving and developing more of an analytics department like all big league clubs. David Ross has also suggested in his first press conference he looks to embrace the analytical approach to managing.
Because of these two factors and Heyward’s success in the fifth and sixth spot, I believe under new management he will find himself deeper on the lineup card consistently.
Sure, Jason Heyward hasn’t lived up to his near $200 million deal, but he is an upgrade from Albert Almora and there is no reason to think Heyward’s bat won’t take a step forward with the help of lineup consistency.