Batter’s Box: Carry On My Heyward Son

Jim Chatterton explores the most notable hitting performances from Saturday, including a possible resurgence of Jason Heyward.

Carry on my Heyward son. There’ll be peace when that ball is gone. Lay your weary head to rest when you cross home plate.

Jason Heyward has been one of the most frustrating players to watch since 2016 when he joined the Chicago Cubs. That year he got his gigantic contract but forgot how to hit. Fast forward a few years and Cubs fans are holding dearly onto his defensive skills as validation for the money spent on him limiting any additions that could have been made this past offseason. For the past three seasons, Heyward has been sporting a sub 100 wRC+ while prior he sat comfortably in the 120s. Last year, he did see a slight uptick in his offense hinting that something positive may be in his future. Yesterday, he went 3-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, 2 BB — an almost perfect fantasy line. This is on top of his home run from the day before and the fact that he has safely hit in all but one game so far. Most notably he has been hitting the ball harder with an exit velocity over 91. That is great to see from Heyward this early. He may not be worth an add just yet, but Heyward is showing some promise that is well worth tracking.

Let’s take a look some other notable performances, even some by other players trying to live up to their contract.

Christin Stewart (OF, Detroit Tigers) 2-3, R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB. This young Tiger has not had much time in the majors, but starting the season with a homer in the first game hopefully should have set the pace. Disappointingly, he may have been over-eager as he went hitless for the next six games. Stewart finally put things back together with a double and a home run. He is a rookie with some power you should keep your eyes on.

J.D. Davis (1B/3B, New York Mets) 3-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB. Another rookie with some power, Davis has been spending a lot of time in the cleanup spot in the early going. He drove two laser home runs against Patrick Corbin — both hit over 111 MPH with one landing 446 feet away. He won’t see that much playing time once Jed Lowrie comes back but he’ll keep playing if he keeps hitting.

Joey Votto (1B, Cincinnati Reds) 2-5, R, HR, RBI. An odd power outage last year from Votto has some folks worried about what he can do in 2019. He is always a safe bet for an elite OBP but some how he still managed to score below 70 runs last year too. Votto delivered his first homer of the year and we are seeing a slight uptick in exit velocity. If the Reds offense can pick it up again, Votto will also be scoring and driving in plenty of runs.

Josh Bell (1B, Pittsburgh Pirates) 3-5, R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. Bell is somewhat of a post-hype sleeper this year after not taking that next step forward from the solid 2017. However, his peripheral statistics either improved or stayed the same in 2018 as they were in 2017 despite the drastic drop in dingers. In the early season, Bell is ripping the cover off the ball with a 94.3 average exit velocity. He’d be a nice pick up if you are looking to replace an injury at the unusually thin 1B position.

Jay Bruce (1B/OF, Seattle Mariners) 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Here’s Brucey! I joked earlier this year that Bruce was hampered by being a New York Met in 2018. There were two reasons for his struggles last year: an injury and a spot on the roster. With their glut of outfielders, the Mets really didn’t know where to put Bruce. Now with a solid spot in the Mariners lineup, Bruce is back to his normal home run hitting self. Expect another year of 30 plus dingers from Bruce.

Tim Beckham (SS, Seattle Mariners) 4-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. Beckham does it again! However this time the ball barely made it out and didn’t result in a sick bat flip. So we can’t bat flip it like Beckham (shout out to commenter Pat for that one). He is barreling the ball more than ever with more patience at the plate. His current line may be unsustainable but he’s improved and is still worth a look if un-owned.

Tim Anderson (SS, Chicago White Sox) 3-4, R, HR, RBI. Oh great, another Tim back to back, and they were playing each other! I’m confused again. Anderson has been crushing the ball this year at a 92.7 average exit velocity. Sadly, it’s directly into the ground. Hit the ball in the air for once and maybe it will go out! Oh look, he did it! If he gets the ball off the ground he’ll succeed much more. Anderson already isn’t striking out by making a ton more contact. This may be a new Tim.

Marcell Ozuna (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) 1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI. Many eyes are on Ozuna this year coming off a weak 2018 campaign and offseason shoulder surgery. Last night he delivered his first dinger of the year with a 455 foot blast. That sounds like a healthy shoulder. He has also hit safely in all but one game so far.

Brandon Belt (1B, San Francisco Giants) 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. The eternal enigma of health, Belt had spurts of greatness at the plate last season. If only he could play a full season again! It’s only nine games but so far so good. Uncharacteristically, he hasn’t walked as much as usual, however he’s driving the ball as hard as he ever has. Again, at the thinner 1B position Belt is a great back up plan or utility stash.

Carlos Santana (1B, Cleveland Indians) 2-3, R, RBI. I’m liking these fringe starting first basemen today. A player who never could hit for average, Santana has maintained a consistent 25/80/80 line while getting on base about 35% of the time. If you can stomach the lower average, his counting stat floor is pretty safe.

Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees) 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. Taters gonna tate, right!? Judge finally gets on the board with his first couple home runs after hitting every single hard hit ball directly into the grass in front of him. He is striking out at a nice 43% clip which is never fun, but each ball in play could tear someone’s head off. He’ll be fine this year.

Yuli Gurriel (1B/2B/3B, Houston Astros) 3-4, 3 2B, RBI. Gurriel usually hits doubles, and he did it again with three against the Oakland A’s. So far this season, he hasn’t been hitting the ball as hard as you’d expect, but he’s putting the ball in the play and rarely striking out. He is a versatile player in the Astros lineup giving him more opportunity for runs and RBIs. He’ll hover close to a .300 average on the year as well. If he’s available he can be a great utility-style bench guy.

Jorge Alfaro (C, Miami Marlins) 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. The second commodity in the J.T. Realmuto trade, Alfaro was still a solid catching prospect. His main issue is chasing pitches which leads to whiffing and striking out. However, if he gets the bat on the ball, he can give it a ride like he did with those two homers last night. All three of his hits were over 100 MPH. The inconsistency and strikeouts may not be worth it, especially playing half the games in Miami.

David Dahl (OF, Colorado Rockies) 3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Dahl is finally healthy and finally has a solid spot in the lineup. With his 445 foot homer, he now has two home runs in two games. He is barreling the ball well but should be looking to strike out less. Even though he started on the road, it was a bright start with eight hits. Now back at Coors, he was able to find some power and hopefully that can stick around.

(Photo by Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire)

Jim Chatterton

Jim has written for Razzball and now is a part of the Pitcher List staff. He is a Villanova alum and an eternally optimistic Mets fan. He once struck out Rick Porcello in Little League.

7 responses to “Batter’s Box: Carry On My Heyward Son”

  1. larry womack says:

    Been offer my Greg Holland for Posey. Would you make this trade of ask for M. Cabrera instead.


    • Jim says:

      Depends if we are still in 2012?

    • Jim Chatterton says:

      Either would work. I think Posey is a good return especially if you want to lock down catcher. It’s been a rough start for him but catcher is a thin position. Overall Cabrera will give you more just not sure if he will relative to who you’d replace.

  2. Christian says:

    Would you drop Nimmo for Renfroe or Laureano

    • Jim Chatterton says:

      Maybe hold off if it’s an OBP league but I would grab Laureano. I also like Renfroe if you are looking for more power.

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