Jason Heyward has been an enigma since joining the Chicago Cubs. On one hand, who can forget his infamous rain-delay speech that occurred before the tenth inning of Game Seven of the 2016 World Series? On the other, since joining the Cubs, Heyward has not been very productive as he has only been worth 2.4 WAR over his first two seasons as the starting right-fielder.
During the 2015 offseason, after playing in 154 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, Heyward signed a mega-deal with the Cubs which pays him $184 million over eight seasons. In his first season with the Cubs, Heyward appeared in 142 games, slashing a disappointing .230/.306/.325 while producing a 1.5 WAR. However, he did show up for the Cubs during the playoffs in more ways than one with some great defensive plays, as well as a locker room speech that will hold in the annals of baseball lore. Many will argue that without that speech, the Cubs couldn’t have gained momentum to carry them to their first World Series championship in 108 years.
As Cubs fans, we all know that this upcoming season is a big one for Jason Heyward. While most will ultimately opine that his speech made the contract worth it, it does go without saying that Heyward needs to have a productive 2018 season. Thankfully there is hope, and it seemingly starts with him.
This past Friday, when asked who the Cubs’ 2018 MVP would be, Heyward responded with himself. When asked about his contract situation Heyward responded by saying:
“It is what it is, I earned it. I earned that part of it. For me, it’s awesome. To be where I want to be, that’s the most important thing.”
Needless to say, there is a positive aura around who Jason Heyward could end up being in 2018 for the Cubs.
In October of last year, the Cubs let three-year hitting coach John Mallee go and replaced him with former Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis. According to multiple sources, Davis is already hard at work with Heyward, ensuring that nothing will be left out when it comes to the future success of the Cubs’ right fielder.
Davis hopes that he can help Heyward return to the type of hitter he was in Atlanta back in 2012, where he hit 27 home runs and was worth a career high 6.5 WAR.
Moving forward, it would be a major boost for the Cubs’ offense if Jason Heyward can increase his value to anywhere close to what it was a few seasons ago. Failing to play full seasons over the last couple of years and worth only 2.4 WAR in those seasons, Heyward definitely has something to prove and leaves something to be desired. If Chili Davis can bring Heyward to the level that he believes he can, the Chicago Cubs could be even more of an offensive juggernaut heading into 2018 and could find themselves back in serious contention for another World Series appearance, and a season to remember for Jason Heyward.
Muskat, Carrie. “Chili Davis Brings New Mentality to Cubs.” MLB.com, 13 Jan. 2018, www.mlb.com/cubs/news/chili-davis-brings-new-mentality-to-cubs/c-264677364.
Graff, Jon. “Jason Heyward Predicts He Will Be the MVP of 2018 Cubs.” Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo!, 19 Jan. 2018, sports.yahoo.com/jason-heyward-predicts-mvp-2018-025024287.html.