Jason Heyward was a key acquisition the Chicago Cubs made in the 2016 offseason. He signed an eight-year contract worth $184 million coming off a 2015 campaign in St. Louis that saw him hit an average of .293 with a .493 SLG and a .797 OPS. He won a gold glove in the outfield in back to back years. Fast forward to 2019, Heyward had his best season as a Cub slashing a .270 AVG/ .343 OBP/ .395 SLG/ .731 OPS. Yet he wasn’t playing up to par like he had in his 2014 and 2015 campaigns. Entering the halfway point of his eight-year contract, the Cubs were hoping for Heyward to turn back the clock.
Shifting Lineups Hamper Heyward
Jason Heyward shined throughout the year for the Cubs but had some struggles along the way. One of the biggest complaints Cub fans had with former manager Joe Maddon this year was that his constant changing lineups stifled the team’s offense. Heyward seemed to have the hardest time adjusting to the shifting lineups. When Ben Zobrist was out due to personal reasons, J-Hey started to bat first in the lineup. His batting first slash line in 33 games was .147 AVG/ .252 OBP/ .302 SLG/ .554 OPS. Not only did he struggle batting first, he didn’t perform well against lefties batting .205 AVG/ .258 OBP/ .295 SLG/ .553 OPS. His struggles didn’t end there, he had some issues regarding fielding as well. However, these issues came from Heyward’s new role in center field due to the Nicholas Castellanos trade making them more forgivable. Despite all these struggles, he still had some magical moments.
When Heyward wasn’t batting first, he was an excellent batting fifth, sixth and seventh. He played 20+ games in each spot respectively. When combining his stats in each spot, he batted a slashing line of .298 AVG/ .343 OBP/ .502 SLG/ .879 OPS. He had found his sweet spots and had flashes of the guy that the Cubs paid $184 million for. In the months of April, June and July, Heyward had a batting average above .300, a combined .387 OBP, a combined .518 SLG, and a combined .904 OPS. As time went on his batting became on and off issues at inopportune times. With Kyle Schwarber and Castellanos hitting like they were at the end of the year, Kris Bryant hitting well again, and Zobrist returning, the Cubs needed Heyward’s stats in September to be like his stats in June.
Overall Grade On The Season
Jason Heyward throughout the year showed Cub fans that he can live up to his contract with a combination of great hitting and a great glove. Though he had a shaky start to his Cub’s career, this season was one of the best for J-Hey. He excelled at batting in the five, sixth, and seventh hole and there is no doubt that he would have continued to have success in these spots had Joe Maddon not needed someone to take the lead off spot. Despite the struggles I’d still give Heyward an A-. He had a great year and I hope that he continues to live up to his contract.
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