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Chris Heisey: Reds Starting Left Fielder

Ray Guilfoyle discusses the fantasy impact of the Ryan Ludwick shoulder injury and the value of his replacement, Chris Heisey.


On Monday, we received news that Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick separated his shoulder sliding into third base. Ludwick came into the season looking to repeat his 26 home run, 80 RBI season in 2012. Today, we learn that he will have surgery to repair the separated shoulder and will probably miss the next three months.

Say hello to Chris Heisey. Prior to the Ludwick injury, Heisey was only fantasy relevant in NL-only and the deepest of mixed leagues. Today, he is being grabbed in all but AL-only leagues.

Two seasons ago, Heisey put his name on fantasy owner's radars after hitting .254-.309-.487 with 18 HRs, 44 runs, 50 RBI and 6 stolen bases in less than 300 at bats. He benefitted from a 49.5% fly ball and 18.6% HR/FB% in 2011, but Heisey is a fly ball hitter, which is a good thing, as he plays his home games in Great American Ball Park (GABP).

To say that Great American Ball Park is a hitter's park may not be doing the ball park justice. According to ESPN's Ball Park Factors, the ball park increased run scoring by a little over 11% vs league average last season. More importantly, the park increased home runs by 59%, second only to Miller Park, and 10% more than Coors Field.

According to park factors over at Stats Corner, GABP increased home runs for right handed hitters by 49% last season. Chris Heisey hits right handed, and he will be seeing regular playing time for the first time in his career. One thing that has held Heisey back from regular playing time in the past is 1. Dusty Baker likes veteran players, but you knew that already, and 2. Heisey has trouble making contact. He made contact on just 79% of the pitches he saw last season. Pitchers are not afraid to throw him strikes either, as he saw first pitch strikes in 67% of his plate appearances last season.

Back on March 19th, ESPN's Keith Law picked Heisey as one of his breakout players for 2013. Here is the excerpt:

But other execs have told me the Reds refused to discuss him in deals this winter, so perhaps they are likely to give him the playing time he deserves -- especially with no true center fielder on the roster. Heisey is a better pure hitter at this point than Ryan Ludwick, who isn't likely to hit 26 homers again at age 34.

I drafted Heisey in the later rounds of my NL-only league two weeks ago, and the injury to Ludwick was music to my team's ears after drafting several players on the DL.

What will Heisey do now that he has a full time job in left field for the Reds? I think if you can look past his low batting average, he could put up double digit home runs and stolen bases this season. He is a fly ball hitter in a park that doesn't hold too many fly balls, so Heisey could put up 20+ home runs this season.