September 27, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) walks to the dugout after striking out against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field. The Phillies beat the Braves 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

2012 Player Projections: Jason Heyward

 

I saved the best for last of course; rookie sensation and sophomore… well he didn’t have a good year but I am not going to say he played bad. He was injured, and Larry Parrish did a number on him. If I am going to give a pass to Prado I’m obviously going to for Jason as well.

Jason Heyward has the talent to be one of the best players in the game and should be getting the respect that rival outfielder Mike Stanton is getting. A lot of people are forgetting about Heyward heading into 2012 (including some Braves fans) and I think he is going to remind a lot of people that he was the #1 prospect a few years ago for a reason.

AVG OBP SLG HR RBI R BABIP
2011 .227 .319 .389 14 42 50 .260
Bill James .269 .374 .457 21 74 86 .306
Roto Champ .253 .363 .436 20 71 75 .289

I disagree with these projection more than any player we have been over yet in the series. While the OBP and SLG are fairly close to what I think Heyward will put up all of the other numbers are off. I think Heyward’s slugging percentage will fall somewhere in between the projections of .457 and .436 and I think the OBP will be higher than both at around .380.

I don’t see how Jason will have such a low average unless he is still injured (at the moment he is not). In his rookie year he hit for an average of .277 which is well above average, especially for a rookie. I am expecting Jason to hit for an average around .275 to .280 because he will be getting familiar with MLB pitching in his third full year.

Jason Heyward has never hit 20 home runs in a professional season. I have talked about his insane ground ball percentage before (55% and 53%) and until that changes I don’t see Heyward hitting more than 20 homers. He has the power to hit around 30 but that is not going to happen unless he starts putting the ball into the air more. I don’t see how Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher couldn’t realize this and I hope it is something they are concentrating on. At this point I feel like Freddie Freeman will hit more homeruns than Heyward and I would expect around 15-20 from Jason.

The Braves organization wants Jason Heyward to be the 3 hitter of the future. Chipper is about done in that role and Heyward is the player best fit for the job. For this reason I think Heyward will be getting more RBI than runs. It is possible that Heyward is placed in the 2 hole for the season but that idea never really caught on for Fredi Gonzalez. I would think Heyward will start the season around 6th or 7th but when he proves he has his swing back, a move into the heart of the order only makes sense. So I am going to predict around 85 RBI and 73 R.

Defensively Jason Heyward is fine. He has a great arm, good range, and natural athleticism despite his large body. People have said that he could play center field if needed but I hope that doesn’t need to happen. Hopefully the team tries to get him to dive less (in the field and on the bases) because he has had thumb issues and they can really hold him back.

 

Frank Wren has said this off season that Jason Heyward is not guaranteed a starting right field spot. This pretty much means that Jason needs to make sure he puts some work in to get healthy and fix his swing. He will be playing right and he will put the spot back on lock down in 2012. He has slimmed down a bit which should help keep him healthy and his swing is headed in the right direction. According to Chipper, he is almost back to 2010 form and he could be by the time you read this. I am fully expecting Jason to be the anchor of the offense this year, if we are going to make a deep playoff run he will have to.

Tags: Atlanta Braves Jason Heyward Player Projections

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