Yesterday, we wrote about how Jason Heyward is the surprising early-season leader in hard contact in baseball, and we openly questioned just how meaningful that was at this stage. Short version? Eh, I wouldn’t take it to mean much.
As if to tell the world, “Hey, guys, I can seriously hit the ball hard,” Heyward used his one at bat last night to hit a ball 375 feet at 101.4 mph:
— Cachorros de Chicago (@cachorros) April 6, 2018
That pitch was on the inner black at 96 mph – a pitch you’d think would easily tie Heyward up, given his awkward, lunging swing – and Heyward got his hands in, got the barrel down to meet the ball, and he turned on it. I don’t think we’ve seen him do that with that kind of velocity too often.
It also probably helps that Heyward is a bit more off the plate this year, in terms of being able to get in on that pitch. Here’s a look at Heyward from last July versus last night:
Jason Heyward just before a homer in Milwaukee last July versus last night. More upright now, further from plate, and hands higher. Maybe slightly more closed, too. pic.twitter.com/ktnsMH43Nj
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 6, 2018
Let me be really clear: this post is just a “hey, that’s a fun thing that happened last night” post. It is not a “see all the changes Heyward has made and he’s finally back” post. It’s gonna be months before we could reasonably go there.
So, for now, I’m just enjoying that Heyward turned on an inside 96 mph fastball and ripped it. How rare was that for him? Well, per Matt Trueblood: “Jason Heyward’s ninth-inning homer off Corey Knebel came on a 96-MPH inside fastball. Heyward homered against 95+ MPH once in 2016, but otherwise not since April 2014. He also hadn’t homered on *any* inside pitch since one in 2016, and before that, since 2014.”
Last night was truly a rare event.