Buying & Selling: Jason Heyward

Hopefully you have been patient with Jason Heyward through his struggles so far in ’13 because the positive regression has already begun and a monster stretch of production could well be on the horizon. A consensus top 50 pick, Heyward has finally been hot of late. Over the last 15 days, the young slugger has a .352 batting average and 3 home runs. Heyward’s underlying numbers suggest an absurd amount of bad luck that is bound to correct itself sooner or later. His recent hot streak might represent just that.

Heyward enjoyed a breakout 2012 campaign that saw him hit .269/.335/.479 with 27 homers, 82 RBI, 21 steals and 93 runs scored. He was one of only ten players to go 20/20 and finished the year as an elite outfield option in fantasy leagues. This year though, Heyward looked like a shell of the player he was last season, some of which can be blamed upon appendix issues he dealt with early on. He’s spent most of this season well below the Mendoza line and has only recently eclipsed it. Even with Heyward’s hot hitting of late, his season batting average stands at just .213. Nevertheless, he is beginning to show signs of life, which fantasy owners definitely appreciate.

Battering ram right hook.

A drop in strikeout rate shows that Heyward’s approach at the plate as actually improved this season — the rest of his stats should follow the trend.

So why is Heyward a great buy right now? Let’s have a look. Heyward is showing gains in virtually every aspect of his offensive game from his breakout 2012, which is impressive. First, he’s walking in over 11% of his at bats, up from just under 9% in 2012. Next, he has cut his strikeouts drastically, from 23.3% in 2012 to just 17.6% in 2013. Building upon those skills are important, and the better his plate discipline becomes, the more dangerous a hitter he will be. What’s funny is that Heyward’s BABIP stands at a paltry .238 right now; due for some big time correction. Look for that to come up in the weeks ahead.

Not only has he made gains in the plate discipline department, but also he has done the right things elsewhere as well. What I mean is, he has increased his LD% almost 3% from last year. Furthermore, Heyward is hitting fewer grounders as well and is in the midst of a 3-year decline in that department. Conversely, Heyward is hitting virtually the same amount of fly balls as he did last season, yet his HR/FB would represent a career low at just 10.9% (16.9% in 2012). Heyward is showing gains in making contact while swinging at far fewer pitches outside the strike zone (2012: 33.5%; 2013: 27.8%).

In summing this all up, Heyward is a man you want on your team. Pounce on him in any league in which he is not valued as a top 50 player. Buy low and enjoy the ride!

Timothy King is a contributor to RotoAnalysis. Look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com and DobberBaseball.com, and follow him on Twitter @TKing978.

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Photo Credit: http://www.foxsportssouth.com/common/medialib/266/750755.jpg

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