Jason Heyward has had a roller coaster Cubs career that’s peaked in 2020.
When Jason Heyward inked his eight-year, $184 million deal with the Chicago Cubs before the 2016 season everyone was expecting big things. I know I was. In year one, the outfielder turned in the worst year of his career and people started to look at the contract like it might be a failure.
That season, he hit just .230 with seven home runs and 49 RBI, while leading the league in soft-hit batted balls. He salvaged his campaign by winning his fourth Gold Glove award and delivering the infamous rain delay speech in the World Series – but statistically speaking, it was a forgettable year.
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Heyward got better in 2017 but still did not live up to the huge contract and the expectations that accompany it. That year, he batted .259 with 11 home runs and 59 RBI. Two years later, in 2019 we finally started to see the Heyward that we thought we had signed three years prior.
He was putting up some great numbers before former Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to have him bat leadoff.
The veteran had 147 plate appearances leading off and batted .147 with four home runs and six RBI. In all of 2019, Heyward batted .251 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI. So it was shown that when he wasn’t in the leadoff spot and he was deployed properly, he had a solid year.
Now heading into 2020 people didn’t know what to expect from Heyward. Would he continue his roll from 2019 or was it just a fluke? Some also believed having no fans in the stands might help his performance.
I would say that’s been the case because Heyward has been the Cubs’ best hitter to this point in 2020. Heading into Friday’s opener against the White Sox Heyward was batting .283 with six home runs and 22 RBI with a .414 on-base percentage. He leads the Cubs in batting average and triples. Heyward has been the Cubs’ best and most consistent hitter in 2020 with a 143 wRC+.
Over the last week or so, David Ross has started to move guys around more in the batting lineup based on how they have been performing. For example, Javy Baez had been batting third most of the season and has been moved down to sixth in the lineup for the past week.
Heyward has now been moved up in the order, batting cleanup on Friday. Who would have thought this is where we would be with Heyward after that 2016 season? I know I never thought this would be the case, but I am happy this is how things have played out.