Passing Judgment: Fantasy Baseball – Heyward Bound
It is hard to believe that it has been three years since the fantasy baseball world was salivating at the arrival of Braves’ rookie outfielder Jason Heyward. Before the 2010 season, Heyward was anointed the next big thing in fantasy baseball and was regarded as baseball’s best overall prospect. After all, what was not to like? Heyward, the 14th overall pick in the 2007 draft, was an impressive physical specimen with all of the tools necessary to become a star.
His status as a “can’t miss” prospect was only furthered when he hit a mammoth homerun in his first major league at bat at 20 years old. Later in 2010, he was voted to be a starter in the All-Star game as a rookie. He would finish his rookie campaign batting .277 with 18 homeruns and 72 RBI which was good enough for a second place finish for National League Rookie of the Year behind Buster Posey.
As positive as Heyward’s rookie season was, his sophomore season was just as disappointing. Instead of progressing, Heyward endured a brutal season mired with injuries, slumps and bad habits. He was a complete fantasy bust finishing with a .227 batting average, 14 homeruns, and 42 RBI. Heyward showed a staggering vulnerability against left-handed pitchers and seemed overmatched in general.
Heading into 2012, Heyward was viewed as a marginal OF2 or OF3 option in fantasy leagues. Clearly the Braves were going to give him every opportunity to succeed, but it was debatable whether he would be platooned against lefthanders. Instead, Heyward rebounded with an impressive campaign finishing the season with a .269 batting average, 27 homeruns and 82 RBI. He also played in 158 games and scored 93 runs with 21 stolen bases. His numbers across the board showed that Heyward absolutely had the tools to become one of the best players in the game.
Now as we prepare for the 2013 season, Heyward appears primed to take the next step towards superstardom. He is still probably viewed as an OF2 worth a 3rd or 4th round pick simply because of where his numbers ended up last season. This could be a bargain as he seems to be on the precipice of breaking through to the next level in terms of fantasy value. You have been warned.