Jason Heyward made a catch last night in the 8th inning, which went barely noticed for at least a couple reasons.
For one, everything that followed in the 8th inning was awful and burn it with fire and la-la-la-la I can’t hear you what 8th inning?
For another thing, the reality is that we’re all so desensitized to Heyward making catches like this:
Another gold glove catch by Jason Heyward to rob Joey Votto of a hit. pic.twitter.com/FoyLoeM3Hh
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) August 25, 2017
It’s barely regarded as a highlight these days, because Heyward makes all kinds of catches like that.
But, you know, even in a loss, and even coming from Heyward, that catch deserves a little spotlight. So, there. Spotlighted.
It’s been another challenging year at the plate for Heyward, who has improved his line from .230/.306/.325 in 2016 to .257/.319/.382, but that’s still quite bad, especially for a corner outfielder (83 wRC+). There will be a time to deconstruct his offensive performance in 2017 (and begin to anticipate the terror of the six years that remain on his contract), but today, I just wanted to marvel at how fantastic Heyward remains defensively.
And incredibly consistent, too. Heyward’s outfield DRS numbers for the last six years read: 17, 14, 26, 24, 18, 16 (season not yet completed). And his UZR/150 is even more consistent: 21.6, 20.0, 20.5, 24.0, 23.2, 25.6.
That 16 DRS mark is tops on the NL this year for outfielders, and third in MLB. That UZR/150 is tops in MLB.
While Heyward was also relatively consistent with the bat before coming to the Cubs, defensive consistency seems to have more year to year “stickiness” than offense (even if the advanced metrics usually have much more noise than we see in Heyward’s numbers).
In other words, the bat falling off was always a risk with Heyward (though the consistency with which he put up above-average numbers, and his age, seemed to mitigate that risk). The glove falling off was a much, much smaller risk. And it hasn’t fallen off. Heyward, for all his flaws at the plate, has remained consistently excellent on defense for the Cubs. So at least there’s that.