Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The Roller Coaster Career of Jason Heyward

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Jason Heyward has been an enigma, to say the least, so far in his short career.  After dominating the minors, he posted one of the best rookie seasons ever, though it wasn’t good enough to win the 2010 Rookie of the Year (at least I’m not bitter…).  With a lack of struggle up to that point, last year was hard to take for all Braves fans.  His offense still ended up near average, but it was a few steps back from his previous year.  In one season, he went from future HOF’er to injury-prone question mark.

Heyward starting this season similar to last year, having a good April and a poor May.  Fortunately, he found it again in June, posting a 183 wRC+, his best month of his career.  Including his constant great defense, Heyward has compiled 12.4 B-R WAR so far in his career.  Here is the list of players since 1975 to accumulate at least 10 WAR by age 22:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To Age G PA BA OBP SLG Tm
1 Jason Heyward 12.4 2010 2012 20-22 375 1509 .260 .358 .441 ATL
2 Albert Pujols 11.5 2001 2002 21-22 318 1351 .321 .399 .586 STL
3 Andruw Jones 17.2 1996 1999 19-22 505 1890 .260 .335 .476 ATL
4 Alex Rodriguez 22.2 1994 1998 18-22 513 2271 .313 .364 .543 SEA
5 Ken Griffey 20.3 1989 1992 19-22 578 2422 .301 .366 .494 SEA
6 Roberto Alomar 11.7 1988 1990 20-22 448 1959 .283 .339 .379 SDP
7 Cal Ripken 11.9 1981 1983 20-22 345 1421 .288 .340 .486 BAL
8 Rickey Henderson 14.3 1979 1981 20-22 355 1613 .300 .396 .395 OAK
9 Robin Yount 10.3 1974 1978 18-22 696 2869 .271 .308 .362 MIL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/6/2012.

When Andruw Jones and Roberto Alomar are the worst names on a list, you’re doing something right.  He isn’t in A-Rod’s or Griffey’s class, but production at such an age is normally a precursor to a great career.  Tony Conigliaro also made this list, a reminder of what can happen to a player at any time.  That being said, this may be a great time for an extension.  What does everyone think?

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