Heyward, coming off an injury riddled 2013 campaign, has gotten off to a great start to the 2014 season. In his latest performance against the Brewers, Heyward went 2-for-5 with a two-run home run as the leadoff batter for the Braves.
Heyward has established himself as one of the best young talents in the game, but he has struggled to maintain strong numbers on a year to year basis. He was an All-Star and runner-up in the NL Rookie of the Year voting back in 2010 after hitting .277 with 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .393 on-base percentage, but Heyward followed that up by hitting just .227 with 42 RBI’s the following season. It looked like Heyward had rebounded from that bad year in 2012, as he had career highs with 21 home runs, 82 RBIs and 21 stolen bases while maintaining a .269 average, but he dropped off again last season.
What the Braves need out of Heyward is consistency. As the leadoff hitter, Heyward sets the tone for the rest of the lineup and when he is getting on base, the Braves are a better ball club.
A big factor to this lack of consistency is a decrease in Heyward’s walk totals. Heyward drew 91 base on balls back in 2010, but he hasn’t topped 60 in a season since then, including 2012 where he had a career high in plate appearances.
If Heyward can play up to his potential like he did against the Brewers, the Braves have a chance to win a lot of games this season.