The Cubs’ series against the Dodgers may not have gone as planned, but one very important positive came in the form of Jason Heyward’s bat. Heyward went 7-for-9 with three walks, two runs scored, and a double during the first three games of the series. Heyward received a day off on Sunday in favor of a righty-heavy lineup against Clayton Kershaw.
In addition, Heyward “went deep” against the Dodgers on Saturday, but his home run was overturned. The Cubs ended up losing the game on a Cody Bellinger walk-off home run. There’s plenty to argue about the play, and Cubs On Tap’s very own Joe Marras dug into that topic.
Nonetheless, Heyward’s bat is really starting to come around. If Heyward can become a consistent bat at the bottom of the lineup, it will only further benefit the rest of the team. Let’s take a look at the case of Jason Heyward.
Looking at Jason Heyward’s season thus far may leave you underwhelmed. Through 56 games in 2021, the 31-year-old is slashing .201/.287/.345 with five home runs and 14 RBI’s. Those numbers certainly don’t make you think Heyward is having a good season. However of late, his numbers are significantly better, which completely changes the narrative about the Cubs’ right fielder.
In Heyward’s last seven games, he is slashing .474/.565/.737. The latest series with the Dodgers certainly has helped J-Hey’s hot streak. However, this last series is not the only success he’s had. In his last 15 games, he’s slashing .300/.429/.425 with a solo home run and nine walks. Four of his walks have come in his last seven as well.
Sure, the power numbers this season don’t jump out at people. However, Heyward has primarily hit in the bottom third of the lineup, so he doesn’t always have a lot of opportunities to drive in runs. That said, the Cubs don’t need Heyward to be a run producer, not in this lineup. If Heyward can shape himself into a guy that gets on and gets driven in by the All-Star caliber bats in the lineup, he’ll be filling a role the Cubs are in dire need of.
Jason the Run Scorer
After signing an eight-year, $184 million deal with the Cubs ahead of the 2016 season, Cubs fans were expecting a lot from the Gold Glove right fielder. However, Heyward has not lived up to the hype with the Cubs. The glove has been there, but the bat has left a lot to be desired from the team’s largest contract.
From a power perspective, Heyward has not produced at the same level he did during his days with the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals. Heyward has only recorded two seasons with double-digit home runs, and only one season with more than 60 RBI’s in a Cubs uniform. In baseball, a player making well over $20 million a season is expected to be a run producer. However, Heyward has not fit that mold since joining the Cubs. For Heyward, he can find value in becoming two things: an on-base machine and a run scorer.
The Cubs have cooled a bit offensively, and getting men on base is something this offense desperately needs. Nico Hoerner is on a rehab stint with Triple-A Iowa, so one high-contact bat is on its way back to this Cubs lineup. With the eventual return of Matt Duffy, the Cubs will have other contact bats to get on base. However, if Heyward can become one of those bats, he would add incredible value to this team.
Why Would We Love Jason Heyward?
Based on Heyward’s last seven games, and even his last 15 games, Heyward is turning into a player that will help this Cubs team more than ever. Why? Well, to quote an iconic line from the movie “Moneyball”, “… because he gets on base.”
It’s plain and simple, if Heyward can continue to hit the way he has, take some walks, and get on base for the quintet of potential All-Star starters, he’ll be incredibly valuable to the Cubs. Inserting an on-base machine like Heyward has been with the likes of Duffy and Hoerner when they return will give the north siders a well-balanced lineup that can return to its May form when the Cubs shot up the NL Central standings. It’s not a perfect plan, but there is a lot of potential if Heyward can re-invent his role in the offense at this point in the season.
There are a lot of things that need to happen for Heyward to continue his hot streak, but if he continues to get on base, he will provide a ton of value down the stretch. A well balanced lineup is exactly what the Cubs had, and injuries unfortunately de-railed the balance that was once present.
J-Hey is hot right now, and he can really help the Cubs if he keeps up what he’s done over his last 15 games. So Cubs fans, why would we love Jason Heyward the rest of the season? Because he gets on base.