Hello guys and girls. Long time no see huh? Yeah it feels like it’s been forever since I have managed to write anything for the Take and it really makes me kind of sad. But, after settling into the college life I am back in action and hopefully back to writing on a regular basis.
I meant to talk a little bit about Jason Heyward a while back but never got around to it, for a number of different reasons. But after reading Ben Duronio’s MVP post on him I remembered and felt the urge to talk more about Heyward.
Like I said at the beginning of the year, the key thing with Heyward was always his batted ball profile. Jason has had the strength and the swing to be a really great power hitter in the big leagues but in both of his first seasons he only managed to put up 18 and 14 home runs respectively.
This season, Heyward has shattered his previous career high, with over a month of baseball still to be played. He is at 24 home runs with 514 at bats* which is more than 100 less than he had after finishing his 18 home run rookie season.
There has been lots and lots of talk about “the new Heyward” and how he is hitting for more power but walking less, and striking out more. Most people seem to agree that the trade off works fine and a lot like to think that this version of the outfielder is superior to the uber OBP 2010 version.
Regardless of which version of the Jey-Hey kid you prefer, it is clear that he has taken a step forward in his career, offensively and with his all-around game. His defense has been great this year (it’s always been above average, but to me this year has been awesome) and his base running has been a pleasant surprise. He isn’t as efficient now as he was at the beginning of the season, but 19 stolen bases in 26 attempts isn’t a bad place to start. You can only be so sneaky for so long Jason.
Anyways, back to the batted ball profile. Let’s look at his first three seasons in the bigs just so you can have an idea of what’s going on:
Clearly we can see that his batter ball profile in 2012 is much different than his first two seasons. The most important numbers out of the entire table in my opinion are the GB% and FB%. We can see that Heyward has put the ball in the air at a much higher rate this season by cutting down on his groundballs and the ridiculously high amount of pop ups.
It’s also good to see that his line drive rate is at a career high, up more than 8 points from last season. It’s nothing on Freddie Freeman’s line drive rate (second in all of baseball with 27.7%) but it is still a good number to see.
The most impressive number with Heyward however might be his ridiculous slugging percentage against right handers (310 of his 514 plate appearances) that DOB pointed out in a recent blog.
Like Ben Duronio mentions in his article, it is completely possible for Heyward to eclipse the “oh-so-important” 30 home run mark. If he does this AND the Braves avoid another abysmal collapse than Jason does have a legitimate shot at the NL MVP award.
The best part about all of this is that Heyward could be even better. in 2010 he showed us that he has an incredible eye at the plate, had a cannon of an arm, and had potential to steal some bases. In 2011 he showed us that he was in fact, a human. In 2012 he has shown us that he does indeed have the power we all dreamed he would showcase one day as well as putting on a defensive clinic and becoming a legitimate base running threat. If Jason is able to put all of these things together in one season we will have an unbelievable talent on our hands.
The future is indeed exciting.