Heyward’s impressive summer pushes him closer to expectations
When the Braves last lost a game started by Kris Medlen, Jason Heyward was just 40 games into his career. Barring an unforeseen turn of events, Heyward will play the 400th game of his career this weekend. As he approaches this milestone, it is interesting to see where he stands now in comparison to where some other Braves’ greats stood at this same point of their careers.
Through the 396 games and 1,378 at-bats he had compiled entering Tuesday, Heyward’s numbers included a .263 batting average, 56 home runs, a .359 on-base percentage, .454 slugging percentage, 39 stolen bases and a .813 OPS.
Here is a look at where Hank Aaron and Chipper Jones were at similar points:
Aaron (through 401 games and 1,564 at-bats because he played in a doubleheader on Aug. 31, 1956): .306 BA, 60 HR, 7 SB, .353 OBP, .516 SLG, .869 OPS
Chipper (through 400 games and 1,486 at-bats): .295 BA, 68 HR, 38 SB, .378 OBP, .498 SLG, .876 OPS
Obviously Aaron and Jones were slightly ahead of Heyward in terms of production at this point. But despite all of the frustrations Heyward endured during the 2011 season, it is interesting to see that some of his numbers are still at least in the same neighborhood of the aforementioned Braves legends.
Entering this season, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker preached the need to be patient with Heyward as he gained comfort with the adjustments that were made during the winter. Well after experiencing some ups and downs in April and May, the 23-year-old outfielder found his groove in June and has spent nearly three full months proving he is quite capable of living up to the tremendous expectations that were present when he reached the Majors in 2010.
Heyward has batted .307 with 18 home runs and a .933 OPS in the 76 games he has played dating back to June 2. Among National League players during this span, he ranks fifth in homers and ninth in OPS. To take that next step, he will have to start proving that he can hit left-handed pitchers with more consistency.
Heyward’s splits dating back to June 2
vs. RHP 165 ABs, .358 BA, 14 HRs, .422 OBP, .703 SLG
vs. LHP 125 ABs .240 BA, 4 HR, .294 OBP, .384 SLG
Unfortunately for Heyward, the Braves will face a pair of left-handed starters during the final two games of their current series against the Padres. But this should not be too surprising. The Braves entered Tuesday having gone up against a left-handed starter a Major League-high 49 times.
In preparation for Medlen’s start against the Padres tonight, check out this video created by the hilarious and talented Ricky Mast, who created the Chipper Jones Go Yickitty video.