Atlanta Braves Need To Give Jason Heyward Better Lineup Spot

By Steven Whitaker
Jason Heyward
Getty Images

All true followers of the Atlanta Braves have heard the name as he shot through the minor leagues. We all heard him get compared to some of the best players that have ever played the game of baseball. Then, in his first major league at-bat, he hits a 414 foot home run off of Carlos Zambrano. Yep, Jason Heyward pretty much sealed his fate with the team and it’s fans right then and there. To this point in his career, he hasn’t exactly lived up to what Braves’ fans had expected of him.

Enter the Heyward that has been on an absolute tear over the past few weeks. Over the past 23 games for the Braves, he is hitting .320, raising his struggling total average up to .256. In that stretch, he has hit four of his seven home runs and driven in 12 of his 22 RBIs.

Granted, hitting in the lead off spot isn’t the perfect place for manager Fredi Gonzalez to put him, but he is the only speed that the team has that can hit that high in the lineup. It is quite possible that if he was hitting somewhere between the number 2-5 slots in the lineup, his production would be much greater.

That .320 average that the Braves have seen him hit over the past month is more realistic to what the team thought he would be hitting regularly during a season. However, since his rookie year and 2012, when he hit .277 and .269, Heyward has either been injured or slumping as the season wore on. His career year, to this point, was that 2012 season when he hit 27 home runs, knocked in 82 runs and stole 21 bases. What the team believed in Heyward came true that season, other than maybe hitting a lot closer to .300. However, he will never be able to produce those numbers in the lead off spot that the team is being forced to put him in.

Yet, he’s hotter than hot at the moment. Being placed in a position in the lineup where his at-bat came with runners on base, his production would be through the roof. It also wouldn’t hurt the slumping Freddie Freeman if he was further down the line up to give the first baseman some protection.

Steven Whitaker is an Atlanta Braves writer for Follow him on Twitter @CoachStevenWhit or add him to your circles on Google

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