Cubs need Jason Heyward to replicate his 2020 success next season

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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Jason Heyward / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Cubs need Heyward to replicate what he did this year in 2021

Two years ago, Jason Heyward walked in 8.6 percent of his plate appearances. In 2019, he improved that mark to 11.5 percent – a notable improvement. Then, he doubled down and ranked in the top four percent of the league in 2020 – walking 16.6 percent of the time.

But it wasn’t just that he walked more. Heyward found the sweet spot more than he had in the past and finally looked comfortable at the plate. For much of the abbreviated 60-game season, Heyward teamed up with Ian Happ to carry the Chicago offense.

The two will face a similar test in 2021. No Schwarber, potentially no Kris Bryant. For all we know, Willson Contreras or Javier Baez could be on the move. We just don’t know yet. But we do know the Cubs will look vastly different and Heyward will likely have a somewhat diminished supporting cast.

We know the NL Central is looking like it’s up for grabs, even if the Cubs do re-tool this offseason. But if they want a chance to win back-to-back division crowns, Heyward is going to have to continue his reemergence as an offensive presence.

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Without him, the outfield could be an even bigger question mark than it looks like it will be. It may have taken longer than Cubs fans may have liked, but his arrival as a threat at the plate could not have happened at a more opportune time.