Because wholesale offensive changes – swing or approach or both – cannot usually be implemented during the season, where you see a long stretch of bad results paired with a troubled swing or approach, odds are good that those numbers simply won’t turn around (if at all) until the next year. Sure, hot results streaks might pop in every now and again, but if the problem is deeply rooted in something not flukey, expecting the results to turn around is more about hope than strategy.

So it has been all year for Jason Heyward, for reasons probably best explored when the season is entirely behind us. Suffice it to say, for a combination of reasons, Heyward’s offensive performance in 2016 has been the worst of his career by a country mile, and everyone is grateful that he’s so good defensively that at least the floor of total value is relatively high. To be quite clear: Heyward’s been great on defense all year, and that’s been a helpful thing.





Offensively, he has not been. And, although Heyward saw a nice results bump after Joe Maddon had him take a four-game respite last month, things seem to have returned to the 2016 normal. Which is to say they are not good (charts via FanGraphs’ graphing tool):

In 63 plate appearances since his mini-break, Heyward is hitting just .258/.270/.355. There was no miraculous and otherwise inexplicable turnaround, at least in that short-term. It’s just been more of the same. And as those season-long charts should underscore, the ups and downs are all small samples. It’s the entire season’s worth of performance that tells a much clearer story.



The Cubs are fortunate to not need a huge offensive showing from Heyward this year, though that can’t be assumed going forward into 2017 and beyond. For now, the best you can hope is that Heyward’s offensive performance doesn’t crater any further the rest of the way, that he notches some timely hits in the postseason, and continues to play his characteristically excellent defense.

From there, the offseason arrives, and with it the physical, mental, and mechanical resetting process. Although he has a complicated, unorthodox swing, Jason Heyward has been a very good offensive player for years. The smart bet is still that this 27-year-old player bounces back next year. It will be an interesting thing to follow in the offseason, and then on into the early part of next season.






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