Jason Heyward Was Great Again Last Night, Continuing Very Intriguing 2020 Power and Discipline Trends

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Jason Heyward Was Great Again Last Night, Continuing Very Intriguing 2020 Power and Discipline Trends

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs struck out 14 times last night, and walked just twice. None of those strikeouts and both of those walks came from Jason Heyward.

He also homered in the 9th, back-to-back with Willson Contreras:

That was only Heyward’s third homer this year, but combined with the rest of the night, pushed his season line up to .270/.389/.500 with a 140 wRC+. The sample remains small because 2020, but it’s by far the best offensive performance of his time with the Cubs, and it would be the highest wRC+ of his career:

(via FanGraphs)

As you look over his numbers, the ones that stand out to me as something to track going forward: the walk rate is waaaay up and the power is waaaay up. For a well-disciplined hitter like Heyward, those numbers are not disconnected. The more he drives the ball, the more careful pitchers are. The more careful they are against a disciplined hitter, the more hitter’s counts Heyward gets. The more hitter’s counts he gets, the more he can drive the ball and accept more walks. And so on.

You’ll be unsurprised to lear that, right now, Heyward is posting the best line drive and hard contact rates of his career. He’s also got the lowest groundball rate in his time with the Cubs while also sporting the highest pull rate of his career. Heck, he’s got the 14th highest pull rate in all of baseball.

Thing is, going oppo is not for everyone! A guy like Heyward may not be able to best utilize his power without pulling the ball. As long as you’re disciplined in your at bats, that’s not necessarily a problem.  But where it can become a problem, even if you’re disciplined, is if you’re constantly putting the ball on the ground (especially as a lefty, especially in the extreme shift era). Now, Heyward isn’t putting the ball on the ground nearly as much. And hey, there are the power numbers. So that’s interesting, eh?

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.