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Sunday, April 7, 2019

2019 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: JASON HEYWARD OUTFIELDER CHICAGO CUBS

In almost 99.9 percent of the cases, anytime a hitter at any position has a game where they not only hit two home runs but also stole two bases, the rush to the waiver wire to make the add if available would be like Running With the Bulls.  That is unless the player in question is Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward who has done nothing but "play" like arguably the worst player in Major League Baseball when salary is taken into consideration.  In short, Heyward was comically bad since signing a ridiculous 8-year deal worth $184 million as his 81-plus OPS from 2016-18 was the fourth-worst in the game.  It was a maddening drop in production from a guy who at one time while coming up with the Atlanta Braves was seen as a can't miss power/speed dynamo who could also play stellar defense.  While no one would quibble with how good Heyward has been in the field, his bat and total offensive game was the butt of all jokes. 

Fast forward to present day as Heyward went absolutely bonkers Saturday in hitting two home runs and stealing two bags.  That brought his season totals to 3 homers, the 2 steals, and a scorching .370.  So with that in the bag, many in the fantasy baseball community weighed picking him up but also had some hesitancy considering it was Heyward.  So the question is whether or not Heyward is worth your time and there are a few things to fall back on.  The first is that Heyward is still just 29 and remains in his offensive prime which typically goes to around age 33.  No one has ever doubted Heyward's ability to run and so steals are much more dependable than power.  Still, Heyward is really driving the baseball and last spring there was talk of him revamping his approach.  It is possible it took Heyward a full season with that new approach to feel comfortable and the numbers that are flowing now could be the result.  In addition, Heyward has been a tremendous contact hitter even through his down years; typically with K/9 rates in the low teens.  Right now that mark is at 9.7 and he is also drawing walks at a 9.7 BB/9 clip.  So in essence, Heyward is controlling the strike zone and is capitalizing on the mistakes pitchers are making to him. 

So when you take all of the above into consideration, Heyward is actually worth adding to see if he can keep this up.  The positive plate approach is very impressive and usually indicates a good level of production is imminent and so pick him up and see where this goes. 


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