2012 Player Projections: Jason Heyward


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

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.

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.

Topics: Atlanta Braves, Jason Heyward, Player Projections

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  • FredOwens

    Wren demonstrating once more that he often engages his mouth before his brain is in gear. Heyward has no competition for his job, neither do Bourn, Freeman, Uggla, McCann, Jones or Prado. Who else is going to play right field; Hinkse? Diaz? It’s really one of the all time dumbest statements of his term as GM and he’s made some real doozies. Remember “At the end of the day, I don’t think errors contribute a great deal to losses?” Why anyone takes him seriously is a mystery to me.

    Comparing Heyward to Stanton isn’t a fair fight. Stanton is a beast, he’ll hit 35+ drive in 85- 100 and strike fear into a pitcher’s heart who has to face him with men on base and no where to put him. Jason is more likely to slice you up like celery for a salad. He’ll hit 20-25 but drive in his 85+ with line drives into the gap and down the left field line like he did when he was a rookie. I don;t want him to lift the ball more. I want him to drive it. The ball will eave the yard as he closes those holes on the inside part of the plate. He’s strong enough to turn on them and create home runs by accident.

    Stanton doesn’t have Jason’s arm or speed either but let’s be clear, in spite of all the gushing over his fielding he does his Magellan act far to frequently to be a great right fielder. He might actually be a better center fielder but that isn’t where his arm belongs. Frenchy took better routes and I never saw him exposed on simple fly balls. Jason gets away with it because he’s fast and agile but that also puts his body in harms way. Remember the jump into the scoreboard/ chain link fence that opened so many games on video last year? That was bad read and a bad route that turned a difficult but playable ball into a great catch. So let’s not get confused, he’s a top tier outfielder but he’s not Clemente.

    Okay, all those convinced that Jason’s journey is towards apotheosis instead of merely an successful career may now gather the torches and stones to drive me into the wilderness.

  • 2012WhiteSox

    I agree with your thoughts on JHey and the average/OBP coming in above those projections. Despite being only 22, I’d expect this season to be a bit of a break out year so I think 20-25 is reasonable. He’s got the power, getting the ball in the air more I think would have been the next step in 2011 if he didn’t end up with all the injury compensations in his swing.

  • http://www.sabbump.org/ clearwall

    It all depends on where you think the aberration lies. Was J-hey a freak his rookie or sophomore season? Too hard to tell where he’ll actually hit since he spent so little time in the minors and so little in the bigs as well. As a fan, naturally, Im rosy in my eyesight with him and I agree with you. I know his talent says he can hit 30hr and drive 100+ rbi, but will his head allow him to do it?

  • Shan0806

    @FredOwens Is this the catch to which you are referring? http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=12713709&c_id=mlb’ defer=’defer

  • FredOwens

    @clearwall Ii think his head’s fine, he simply needs to do what got him here instead of what people think he ought to do.

  • FredOwens

    @Shan0806 Yes that’s the one. He was two step short of having to jump, caught the ball coming down and jammed his ankle when the spikes caught the fence. At an away ballpark that’s understandable but in his yard in his right field where he plays 81 games a year he should know where he is, where the fence is and when he has to jump. One long stride back and he still catches the ball and probably doesn’t get a dangling ankle caught in the fence.

    There were other bad routes last year but this one sticks for me because he could well have broken an ankle on that play. If he’s 6’1″ instead of 6′ 5″ he misses the ball and everyone is saying how badly he played it. He’s young, talented and will improve, hopefully before he injures himself badly making a catch like that.

  • http://www.sabbump.org/ clearwall

    @FredOwens I didnt mean that he has a screw loose or anything, but more along the lines of “dont overthink things.” you’ve seen like I have the kind of guys that try too hard to succeed and fail miserably even with all the talent in the world. Look at Schafer as a prime example of that. Baseball isn’t a game where you can give max effort all the time. Maddux was a master with 80% effort and being dominant with it. My worry is that the failures by Heyward last year makes him think that he just needs to swing harder, or do too much to correct his swing and he gets even worse.

  • FredOwens

    @clearwall I knew what you meant, sorry if I implied otherwise. He does have to relax and let the game come to him rather than forcing it. I think his disposition is such that he won’t let it get into his head. He was pressing when hurt because the team badly needed him. It’s a difficult balance. If you report every niggle like JD Drew you get a rep of not wanting to play even if it’s not true. If you play hurt too often you ruin your career. He’s healthy now and if he stops the head first slides injuries won’t come as frequently. Chipper will be good for him and the new hitting coach dumping the Parrish affect will help too. The best help would be a good bench and a solid lineup so he doesn’t feel as if he has to carry the team.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @FredOwens@Shan0806 It’s not like he routinely practices that catch. I didn’t say he was a super star outfielder, but a good one with a strong arm.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @FredOwens @Shan0806 He also didn’t catch the ball coming down but I still don’t think he needed to jump for it.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @2012WhiteSox I agree but until he shows that he can lower the ground ball rate there is no point in ‘projecting’ it. Similar situation with Adam Jones. He needs to work on his plate discipline but can he? If he manages to, and stays healthy we are in for a monster year from him though.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @FredOwens I also think it is fair to compare the two. Sure they are different but they can bring the same value to the team. In Heyward’s rookie year he was worth 5.1 WAR. Mike Stanton’s 2011 was worth 4.5.

    Stanton has more power but Heyward has a higher OBP, much better plate discipline, and brings more speed. The speed difference might not be a ton but it helps out in the field and on the base paths.

    If you don’t like WAR too much because of its UZR influence (like me) then you use wRC+. In 2010 Heyward had a wRC+ of 134 compared to Stanton’s 138 in 2011. wRAA is also similar with Heyward coming in at 27.4 and Stanton at 29.5.

  • Shan0806

    @CarlosCollazo@FredOwens I actually think he’s a stellar defender – I never said otherwise. If one wants to see a player take ‘Magellan-like’ routes, watch some video of Jose Constanza.

  • Shan0806

    @CarlosCollazo fWAR uses UZR for defense, rWAR uses TotalZone.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @Shan0806 I was using fWAR above.

  • Shan0806

    @CarlosCollazo Right, just saying that if you don’t like UZR there are other options from which to choose.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

    @Shan0806 Oh, gotcha. It’s not just UZR but advanced fielding metrics in general. I don’t like UZR, DRS, or Total Zone much to be honest. They do seem to be better for outfielders, but I still don’t trust them.

  • Shan0806

    @CarlosCollazo It’s good to be skeptical, but information (in large enough samples) is better than nothing at all. I agree for the most part, though. Fielding metrics are my second line of defense (no pun intended) when evaluating a player defensively, behind what I observe with my eyes.