Jason Heyward: What Happened to the Braves Slugger in 2011?

 

Sunday January 15, 2012

Sam Evans: 2011 was a surprisingly rough year for Braves outfielder Jason Heyward. The former number one prospect struggled making solid contact and he ended up missing thirty-four games in the year. In order for the Braves to compete in 2012, they will need a healthy Heyward to get back to the level he was at in 2010.

Simply put, Jason Heyward was a monster during the ’10 campaign. During that preseason, there had been so much hype made about the consensus number one prospect in baseball. From hitting a 471 foot homer in his first at-bat, to finishing with 5.1 WAR, Heyward was everything Braves fans could have hoped for… and more.

Heading into the 2011 season, the Braves were expecting an improvmeent from Heyward in his second full season. Heyward didn’t end up having a great year. When he was hurt, he couldn’t help his team. But even when he was healthy, he still struggled.

Heyward hit .192 against lefties in 104 plate appearances. The “J-Hey Kid” missed parts of the season due to issues with his right shoulder and in particular, his sore rotator cuff. Heyward finished with a .227 BA and only fourteen home runs. He could have another mediocre season in 2012, but the feeling is that Heyward will likely bounce back.

Recently, Braves GM Frank Wren was quoted as saying that Heyward will not be guaranteed a starting job in 2012. This is just crazy talk in my opinion. Despite how bad his 2011 season turned out, Heyward was a superstar up until then. Jason Heyward is still only 22 and has room to improve. But he needs major league playing time. Wren could have been just keeping his options open or trying to motivate his young player in some way.  In reality though, it was not a very smart quote coming from a usually intelligent General Manager.

2012 will be a career defining year for Jason Heyward. He could continue along his 2011 path, and lead us all to wonder what happened to the clutch, young prospect we all once fell in love with. Or in the alternative, Heyward could return to his old self and lead the Braves back to the playoffs. Above all, we have to remember Heyward is only 22-years old. He is so far ahead of most players his age. So he has plenty of time to reach his full potential.

**Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter***

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on January 15, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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