Chicago Cubs: The Reemergence of Jason Heyward
|Friday, April 14, 2017 12:49 PM- -|
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs fans obviously enjoyed last season, who wouldn’t after breaking a 108-year-old World Series drought. One disappointment from last season would be Jason Heyward and his non-existent plate presence.
Heyward finished off the season with a .230 batting average, which is the second lowest throughout his seven-year career. After the Cubs had signed him to an 8-year, $184 million contract, Cubs fans and the organization were excited to see what kind of plate presence he would bring to a talented young core. His dismal offensive showing left a lot of Cubs fans nervous for what the future holds for Heyward at the plate. Heyward is a four-time NL Gold Glove recipient, so he knows what he is doing in the outfield.
In the winter the Cubs went out to fix Heyward’s swing. In the videos released by Cubs’ mental skills coordinator Darnell McDonald, you see his stance shortened down a bit compared to 2016. There is also a definitive step with his right leg, as opposed to his 2016 swing where there was not a final step. From the video, it appears that his swing is becoming more compact, which is going to allow him to get his hips fully through the baseball.
Granted, it is only a few weeks in the season, but Heyward is showing improvement at the plate. He is batting .290 with four RBI with an OBP of .353. Maddon was clear that he likes Heyward and the progress he is making.
“I want him to be patient with it.” Maddon told Jesse Rogers of ESPN, “You’re not going to see results overnight. Everyone wants to pour water on something and turn it into what they want.”
So it is clear that Heyward is going to take some time to get back into stride, but the early signs of this season seem to be promising.
“I like his hands.” Madden told Jesse Rogers again after the game in Milwaukee, “I like his hands more involved right now. He’s getting started sooner, staying through the ball longer.”
“Strive for perfection, though you know it’s not going to be perfect,” Heyward told Jesse Rogers recently. “Keep it simple, go up there relaxed and take the thinking out.”
Heyward’s new swing and stance are in his own terminology, “Simple.” Only time will tell if Heyward’s new swing will improve his batting average and on-base percentage. But if you take early season signs to heart, then Heyward could start to earn his salary more at the plate than compared to 2016.