A personal suggestion for a badly struggling Chicago Cubs player

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Has Jason Heyward ever bunted as a member of the Chicago Cubs? I’m asking for a couple thousand friends. So I checked and the answer is ’no’.

It seems to me that one of the people that the shift is most effective against is Heyward. He pulls the ball at a consistent rate of 34.7 percent, more than six full points above the league average. He also goes opposite field about half as often as the rest of the league. The extra infielder in the shift gobbles up his grounders without so much as a ‘thank-you’.

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Heyward has plus speed. If he were to leg out a couple hits on bunts that stingy defense would have to think twice about playing him to pull. He hasn’t even attempted a bunt hit since 2019, and has only attempted seven in his years with the Cubs. In 2012, with the Atlanta Braves, Heyward attempted two bunts and got hits on both of them.

Having Heyward on base with his speed is a plus for the team. But we need to get him on base.

Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward isn’t going anywhere anytime soon

Heyward signed a massive contract in 2016 for $184 million spanning seven years. That means he’s with the Cubs through 2023. No one can have any argument with his defense, he’s a definite plus in right field.

Heyward currently ranks 14th among all active players, at all positions, with an 11.3 defensive WAR. On the JAWS index, which tries to measure HOF worthiness, he has a 4.3 for 162 games, and an overall 51st ranking among right fielders, which is pretty good.

However this year his WAR is only 0.6 and all of his offensive stats are down significantly. His BA is in the low .200s—with a career BA of .259. it is obvious he is not producing at the plate. Heyward is not even getting on base, his OBP stands at .282, lowest among the regular starters.

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If Heyward were to lay down a few bunts to the left side, he would likely lift his batting average several points, improve his on-base percentage, and just possibly, loosen up that defensive shift a little, letting some of those slashing line drives get through. Even just showing bunt occasionally might help.