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Have we seen the best from Jason Heyward?
Back in the preseason, I recommended staying away from Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward for a few reasons. One, I felt his name preceded his value in preseason ADP rankings, and two, I felt the move to the Cardinals wouldn't help him return to the hitter we saw a few years ago. Here is what I wrote about Heyward in our preseason Outfielders to Avoid piece:
There are still many readers and industry experts who still like Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward. The baseball community loves him because he plays a great right field and is still very young.
I disagree with the fantasy community on Heyward. Granted, he is still young, and could benefit from a change in scenery, but I don't think the Cardinals lineup is that much better than the Braves lineup that he played with in 2014. Last season, he hit .271-.351-.384 with 11 home runs, 74 runs scored, 58 RBI and 20 stolen bases. The stolen bases are nice, but I am not sure how much he will run under new manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals don't run that much, so that total could drop a bit in 2015.
Add to that the fact that his power is in decline:
2010: 18 HRs, .179 ISO, .456 SLG
2011: 14 HRS, .162 ISO, .369 SLG
2012: 27 HRs, .210 ISO, .479 SLG
2013: 14 HRs, .173 ISO, .427 SLG
2014: 11 HRS, .113 ISO, .384 SLG
Here is a list of guys who had better power seasons than Heyward in 2014, as measured by ISO:
Melvin Upton, Jr.
Could he rebound in 2015? Sure. I am not going to be the guy to invest in him though. His current ADP according to Mock Draft Army over at Fantasy Alarm is 69.9, or a 5th round pick in 15 team mixed leagues. He is currently being drafted ahead of outfielders that I prefer including Matt Holliday, Charlie Blackmon and Marcell Ozuna.
It is early, but all three of those outfielders are hitting better than Heyward at the moment, and there are plenty more, as well. Last night, Heyward had a good night at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk, home run and 2 RBI in the Cardinals loss to the Tigers. He started the season batting in the second spot in the Cardinals lineup, and recently was dropped to the sixth spot. Last night, facing right-handed starter Shane Greene, he batted eighth. I am not sure if that is a permanent change, or Mike Matheny's way of taking the pressure off of Heyward.
On the season, Heyward is hitting just .246-.305-.389 with 3 home runs, 21 runs scored, 10 RBI and 4 stolen bases, and is on pace for 14 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Nice stats, but not what you expected from Heyward, especially in the power and batting average categories. His walk rate is down and his strikeout rate is up, and if the season ended today, he would set career lows in batting average and on base percentage. Part of the reason for his slow start is the huge increase in ground balls off of his bat. Last season, his ground ball rate was 45%, this season it sits at 61%. According to FanGraphs, his hart hit percentage (HARD%) is just 28% at the moment, good for 116th among qualified hitters. Not good.
He is three years removed from his breakout season, a season where he hit .269 with 27 home runs, 93 runs scored, 82 RBI and 21 stolen bases. You can see from the excerpt above that his power and home run totals are in decline, and there aren't any hitters who can hit doubles and home runs hitting the ball on the ground as much as he does right now.
Have we seem the best from Jason Heyward? I think we have.
For more on Heyward and the Cardinals, make sure you check out Viva el Birdos, SB Nation's Cardinals fan site.
Tigers starter Shane Greene has has a really up and down season. After starting the season looking like an ace, giving up just one run over his first three starts. He then put up three disaster starts in a row, giving up 20 runs over 11 innings over those three starts. In his last start, he gave up just one run in eight innings vs the Royals, and last night, he held the Cardinals scoreless over 5 innings, but left with what could be a serious elbow injury. Here is Will Carroll on Twitter last evening:
For those asking about Greene's ulnar nerve issue, it can be very serious. Wide range. VERY painful. "Funny bone" either inflamed, compress.
— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) May 16, 2015
Time will tell if he will need some time on the disabled list, but it doesn't sound good, so it might be time to scour your league waiver wire just in case.
Speaking of injuries, in a surprising move the Nationals placed starter Doug Fister on the disabled list with right forearm tightness, which doesn't sound real good if you are a Fister owner. Fister got knocked around in Thursday's start vs the Padres, giving up 7 runs on 8 hits in just 2 innings. moving his record to 2-2 with a 4.31 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in 39.2 innings. If we hear of a scheduled visit to Dr. James Andrews, it will be time to get really nervous if you own him. Should he need a stint on the disabled list, Tanner Roark should take his place in the Nationals rotation.
After all the trade rumors around Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki over the past few days, the Rcokies received a scare last night as Tulo left the game vs the Dodgers with a left quad injury. More than likely the team was just being conservative with him and hopefully he can avoid the disabled list. The timing couldn't be worse with all the trade talk. I think the Rockies should deal him and rebuild as they are a last place with or without him, and they have already played without him quite a bit.
No prospect has received as much hype this season as Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. There has been many a Twitter proclamation of #HappyBryantDay (which I hate if done every day or every start -Hi Matt Harvey) and all, but he appears to be worthy of the high praise thus far. Yesterday, Bryant went 1-4 with a home run, 2 runs scored 4 RBI and 2 walks in the Cubs 11-10 win over the Pirates. Bryant is now hitting .273-.407-.465 with 4 home runs, 17 runs scored, 24 RBI and a 38-22 strikeout to walk rate in just 121 plate appearances, so while the walk rate is nice, his strikeout rate is not. I think as time goes on both will come down some, but hopefully it comes at the expense of more power. He possesses some of the best power in the game, and fantasy owners are looking for big power from him form the word Go. It might be wise to temper the power expectations and just let the kid deal with the ups and downs that most rookies go through, because there will be slumps. Patience is required.
It seems that the Royals are a bunch of former very good prospects to a team that underperformed a few years back due to their prospects underperforming expectations. Now they are a team of former prospects who are finally realizing their potential. Alex Gordon took a few years to reach his potential and the same goes for Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Lost in the lineup is outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who is also finally reach his potential. Last night, Cain went 3-4 with 2 runs scored and 5 RBI in the Royals 12-1 win over the Yankees, improving his slash line to .325-.378-.473 with 3 home runs, 19 runs scored, 26 RBI and 6 stolen bases. He is on pace for his best season ever and a breakout year along with Hosmer and Moustakas.
I was high on Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun in our preseason consensus rankings, when others were panning him due to his "down" 2014 season. He has started the season slow, but is quietly hitting for power, albeit with a low batting average. He isn't the only Brewer hitter who started the season slow, but yesterday he had a bid day at the plate, going 2-4 with 2 home runs, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Brewers 7-0 win over the Mets. Braun is now hitting .256-.328-.471 with 8 home runs, 22 runs scored, 21 RBI and 3 stolen bases and is on pace for 36 home runs, and 90+ runs scored and RBI. I see his batting average improving over the course of the seasons and see him finishing in the top 10-12 outfielders by seasons' end.
If you are looking for more fantasy advice, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy baseball and football needs.