Stash or Trash: Has The Time Come To Give Up On Jason Heyward?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It feels like just yesterday that Jason Heyward was setting the baseball world abuzz. He was always viewed as a potential 20/20 candidate, at least by many, and after hitting .269 with 27 HR and 21 SB in 2012 fantasy owners thought that they had found a rock for their outfield.

Things have quickly regressed since, though it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. Those who have been reading Rotoprofessor for the past few years know he’s a player that we’ve never fully bought into, even during his breakout. However have things gotten bad enough for him that he now brings sleeper value? Let’s take a look and try to determine if he’s a “stash” or mere “trash”:

The 2015 Numbers (through June 1)
.251 (44-175), 5 HR, 14 RBI, 25 R, 6 SB

The Outlook
One of Heyward’s biggest problems was always a propensity for groundballs (thus limiting his power potential). He had improved in that regard over the past few seasons, though this year he has taken a significant step backwards:

  • 2010 – 55.1%
  • 2011 – 53.9%
  • 2012 – 44.0%
  • 2013 – 43.7%
  • 2014 – 45.5%
  • 2015 – 56.0%

He did improve his groundball rate in May (49.3%), though it’s hard to call that enough. Since May 1 his average distance on non-groundballs is 252.721, so it’s not like the power is there despite the improvement. Considering that he was at 275.501 during his 2012 breakout, it’s obviously a major red flag. There’s little reason to think that the power is going to come around to something even close to what he did, and his track record supports the lower mark.

Sure he can steal a few bases, but he’s not an elite speedster. He also owns a career .261 average and faces a playing time question as the Cardinals try to fit five outfielders into three positions. Heyward has already started losing some playing time and could easily continue to do so moving forward.

Conclusion
If you can sell him to a league mate who still believes I wouldn’t hesitate to do so. If you can’t, we’re getting closer and closer to simply moving on from him. The upside that once tantalized some just doesn’t appear to be there and the Cardinals could quickly start allocating more and more of his AB to the likes of Randal Grichuk.

Verdict – Trash

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps

5 comments

  1. Outfields? says:

    I’m in need of an OF #4 and Heyward is sitting on my WW. Choice is between him, Polanco, Harrison, and Span. We count BB + OPS. Thoughts?

  2. Ted Striker says:

    I dunno, I would actually try to buy low. He’s only 25, power peaks closer to 27. He plays in a stacked Cards line-up. His contact rate on pitches in the strike zone and overall contact rate are both at career-highs, his swinging strike-rate is a career low, and his current BABIP is a bit unlucky. If you drafted him as your top OF, you’re probably losing your league anyways, but I don’t think things are as dire as you make them seem. He showed big improvements in May over April. Still on pace for a 17-15 season with 80+ runs. I’ll happily take that from my OF3.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Fair, but he’s hardly the player people believed hen ould be. If there is someone who still be,I eves, why not cash in?

      • Ted Striker says:

        Because I think “cashing in” implies that you’re selling high, which you wouldn’t be here. You’d be selling low and you even note in the article that if you can’t sell, you just “move on” which seems to imply outright dropping him. That seems a little extreme. In a redraft, I would treat him no different than any other player who fails to live up to hype: bench him until he heats up and flip him for a need when possible. His best season is yet to come, IMO, and I own him in a keeper league, so I’m giving him a lot more rope.

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