When the Cubs signed Jason Heyward to an eight-year, $184 million contract in the 2015 offseason, they were surely expecting a Gold Glove outfielder who could give them some pop from the left side near the top of the lineup.
While his defense has remained above average (mostly), his offensive numbers have taken quite the hit. He has severely underperformed at the plate with his new contract, averaging -0.1 oWAR over his first two seasons in Chicago.
Jason Heyward has a 106 wRC+ right now. The last time he had something similar (109 wRC+, 2014) he was worth 4.7 WAR.— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) June 12, 2018
That’s more than 2X what he was worth with the Cubs in 2016 and 2017 combined.
One of the main causes of his struggles has been his ineffectiveness against left-handed pitching over the past two years. This season, however, it seems that Heyward may have found a cure.
Within the past two weeks, Heyward has hit 100 mph fastballs from Pirates reliever Felipe Vasquez, a walk-off grand slam off Phillies' Adam Morgan, and came through with a game-tying hit against Milwaukee Brewers relief extraordinaire Josh Hader -- all left-handed pitchers.
Jason Heyward was hitting .139 against left handed pitchers. Tonight? He had a different plan. Walk off grand slam. The whole teams reaction at home plate is priceless. Cubs win. pic.twitter.com/OwYllHErcC— Cubs Live (@Cubs_Live) June 7, 2018
The base knock off Hader deserves a special mention, since the likely All-Star had held left-handed hitters to a .057 average against before that.
Since Memorial Day, Heyward has broken out to the tune of a .407 average with seven extra-base hits. On the season as a whole, Heyward has brought his average up to .281, an amazing improvement from his 2016 average of .230.
It remains to be seen how long this version of Heyward will be around, but so far, he is a big reason for the Cubs' recent success.