Jason Heyward had an excellent game last night in his first trip back to Busch Stadium since leaving the Cardinals in favor of the Cubs.
Although – as you may be thinking – he went hitless at the plate (more on that in a bit), he still made Cardinals fans “boo” with a couple of nifty plays in the right field.
Interestingly, since the Cubs signed Heyward, there has been a barrage of information attempting to describe how good he can be on defense. But despite the unanimous opinions of scouts (and the three Gold Glove awards), I don’t think the degree of his talent as a defender ever really sunk in until we were able to see him play in right field every day.
Check it out:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 19, 2016
The second sliding catch in right field is particularly impressive. Not only does he run a good, long ways, he just looks so completely effortless out there on a play that most right fielders might not even try to make. Moreover, he slides safely and pops back up immediately.
Check out the Statcast version of that catch:
According to Statcast, Heyward got a great jump on the ball (naturally) taking his first step at just .09 seconds. Then, he covered 90.8 feet while running at a max speed of 20.4 MPH (!!!). Although Statcast gives his route efficiency just a 91.3%, I’m not sure there was much more he could have done on that particular ball.
If you were wondering how this guy can add so much value in the field, there are a couple examples of how. He may have gone hitless at the plate (although his average exit velocity was an insane 107.33 MPH on the three balls he put in play), but he saved at least two hits in the field. Contributions come from everywhere, and last night, Heyward’s came from right.