Jason Heyward has really been a thorn in my fantasy baseball (and real baseball) side for too long. He keeps poking me with his thorns and I do not like it.  It’s been an up-and-down ride with him for me the last couple seasons.  Prior to 2015 he was a member of the Atlanta Braves and he had the look of a future 30/20 guy at worst.  In 2012 he hit 27 homers with 21 steals at age 22!  He looked like a power hitter, and he had a solid defensive game to boot.  A future superstar.  But there were signs he wasn’t all that (his minor league numbers showed little power) and they continued in subsequent seasons with the Braves, where he only stole bases and never hit more than 14 homers.  The Cardinals thought they were getting a good deal for Shelby Miller (not as good as the Braves got for Miller sheesh) and Heyward produced a decent fantasy season with 13 homers and 23 steals and a .797 OPS.

So, being a Cubs fan and a (now former) St. Louis resident when he signed with the Cubs I was pretty excited.  He was a bonus to the Cubs and it made Cardinal fans pissed; that’s a win-win for me.  Now all he had to be was as good as he was on the Cardinals and it’d be a win-win-win.  Even though the Cubs are doing really well Heyward has stunk.  Like terribly as many of you are aware. In 75 games so far he has four homers and seven steals and a .089 ISO and an OPS killing .649.  If he’s bringing steals then you could argue him as a fifth OF, but he’s not even doing that.  At least Joe Maddon finally, this past week, put him down, er, moved him down in the order.  I can’t believe it took that long…

The biggest shocker?  He’s owned in 78% of Yahoo leagues and 83% of ESPN leagues and a truly surprising 95% of RCL Leagues.  Usually you can count on low ownership guys I mention having a higher ownership percentage in Razzball Commenter Leagues, but this one confuses me.

Thank god the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler because it could be much worse.  The rest of the team has covered for him too long; the same can be said of him on my fantasy teams.  Sadly I have him on three teams.  Three!  In one league I even traded for him! (It was a month in for Chris Archer in a trade that hasn’t worked out that well for either of us).  So I’ve been fooled, but I’m done with that.  As a Cubs fan I hope he helps win the World Series then opts out after next season; as a fantasy manager I’m ready to cut him.  Well past the time actually.

However even as I think about cutting him I get apprehensive.  He looks like a power hitter.  He has had good seasons as recent as the last one.  No, you can’t fool me!  I just don’t see him getting his shizz together.  I tried to hold onto the fact that he was a better second half hitter thus far in his career; in the first half he’s a .740 OPS hitter; second half .820.  Well that looks decent.  But he’s played 532 games in the first half and only 364 in the second half so not the same sample sizes.  And you know what they say, it’s all about the sample size.

In his breakout 2012 he had 14 homers in the first half, 13 in the second but his OPS was better in the first half.  In 2013 he had a terrible .632 OPS in the first half, a sparkling .932 in the second (albeit in only in 36 games).  In 2014 a .718 OPS in first half, .767 in second.  Last year he had a stinky .743 in the first half and a pretty helpful .866 in the second half.

What did we learn by that?  That he hits better in the second half; well I already supposed that, didn’t I?  On the other hand he’s never had a first half as bad as this current one so I’m not talking myself into keeping him.  Nope, not going to happen.  I’ve even gone so far as including him as a throw-in in a big trade in my home OPS league because I would’ve had to cut him and my trade partner said he’d take him.  Now as fantasy baseball karma goes he’s going to be awesome the rest of the way because that’s just how it works (I’ve already done this with Justin Upton; you’re welcome JUp owners).

Anyway a little more about the trade I just pulled off.  I’ve been in first in my OPS league most of the season but my team has hit the skids lately; it’s a keeper league so I won’t bother you with dollar values and keeper increases and such.  I’ll just say I needed the help and knew I was giving up a lot to get it.  I traded Manny Machado, Steven Moya (of last week’s column fame), Logan Forsythe (another previous column star), Trevor Bauer and the aforementioned Heyward for Starling Marte, Eduardo Nunez, Daniel Murphy and Zach Britton.  Obviously I needed steals.  But in OPS leagues steals without an OPS are real tough to find.  Marte’s about the best as they come combining the two currently so he’s the key piece for me.

Nunez I think is a real hidden gem.  11 homers and 20 steals with an OPS of .818 so far?  Yes, please.  Only problem, Nunez already has a career high in homers by like, a lot. He hit five in 338 ABs when he was a Yankee five seasons ago. So I don’t know how he’s hitting them, but he is.  He just turned 29 so it’s not the “age 27 I figured it all out” fallacy.  Maybe Nunez has; at least I’m betting on it (more like wishful thinking but without wishes in one hand what would I have to compare it to in the other?).

I just watched Murphy hit a homer against the Mets but I have no idea how he’s pulled off 15 homers and a sick .958 OPS thus far.  15 is a new career high for him; I’ve read that he’s a buy candidate and his breakout is for real elsewhere.  He isn’t new to the majors as he’s been around since 2008 showing little power and basically being fantasy neutral.  I also confused him with David Murphy more than once (even when writing this post), but c’mon, that’s not that bad, right?

Murphy’s K% is at 10% which is the best of his career and his ISO is a great .229.  His BABIP is at .350 which will come down, but probably not much.  In the second half of last season he hit nine homers and had an .803 OPS.  I’ll take those numbers as a floor and everything else is gravy.  Mmm, gravy.  Now I’m going to have to get some mashed potatoes and gravy because that’s how my mind works.

Share your thoughts/experiences/anger with Heyward in the comments.  Or if you believe Murphy and/or Nunez are for real.  Also I’ll take judgements on my trade; just remember trades are always a risk, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trading.  Don’t forget it’s still open trading season! Anyhoo that’s it for me this week.  Have a good weekend Razzballers and Razzballettes!

  1. ashtray says:
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    Every thread I’ve found mentions how much better he is in the 2nd half. But it’s not as if some there has been a sudden improvement each year. He typically gets better each month. In past seasons his improvement will have been under way as soon as May or June. This year he has been consistently bad.

    The biggest issue is that his SLG has never been as bad as it has been this year. Something is sapping his strength. Maybe he’s hurt. He had the wrist issue earlier this year. His pop-ups and groundballs are up a bit this year. His Hard% is way down.

    If it wasn’t for his 2nd half track record it would be such an easy decision to move on. In standard leagues I’d have no problem cutting him. However, I’m in a league that includes OBP and Ks which, under normal circumstances, would make Heyward a 7 category contributor. The day I lose patience is coming soon, though.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @ashtray: You’re right, the bottom line is something is sapping his power. Could be the wrist, but I have no faith his second half improvement is going to happen this season. In your league I can see how much more he would help but his steals numbers aren’t even there. I mean he can’t steal bases if he doesn’t get on base. I can’t with him this season anymore

    • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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      @ashtray: until about the 79th day of last year (not game, day) his GB rate was straight up terrible too. i’m STL’ian, i saw it every day.

  2. Uno Mas Cerveza says:
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    I would hate owning this guy for his lack of consistency, but he is 26 and should play back to his numbers. The math says hang in there. Maddon is screwing with a lot of guys playing time but seems sold on Heyward. Says easy, does hard but I would hold.

    • Phil B.

      Phil B. says:
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      @Uno Mas Cerveza: that’s the weirdest part, how much Maddon is sold on him. He just moved him down in the order. He’s needed in CF that fowler is down but I wonder when fowler returns he starts getting more days off. I’m holding him in my other leagues but they penalize more for dropping a guy. Let’s hope he turns it around

  3. BucLover says:
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    I’ll give him a month or so after the break to turn things around…that’s how I roll…it took me until week before last to finally cut Liriano! Currently benching him or using him as my 5th outfielder which has sucked since so many I could have dropped for him are nearly doubling his counting stats. I’ve waited this long, why not a little while longer.

    • Phil B.

      pbmax says:
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      @BucLover: Don’t get me started on Liriano. If Heyward’s not taking aup a spot for someone more valuable; it’s just hard to see him even returning to last year’s 2nd half, much less his 2012, which was 4 seasons ago now. There are better options out there for sure

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