How has Jason Heyward‘s new swing worked for him?
Before the season began, I did a little investigation into whether Jason Heyward’s new swing would ultimately bring back some of the success he had before his contract with the Cubs. In it, I listed off a few key differences I noticed.
- His path to the ball is much shorter
- His stance is more open
- He’s standing more upright, and his bat is as well
Now, I won’t go into too much detail as to why these differences are important, but the biggest is probably that his path to the ball is much shorter. Given that a 90 MPH fastball takes .4 seconds to reach home plate, and a human needs .25 seconds to see and react to the pitch, any increase in quickness of the swing is a definite advantage. It generally means the difference between a hard line drive to the gap and a weak pop-up to an infielder.
So, that being said, let’s check out how Heyward responded to a sub-par 2016. With a slash line of .257/.320/.382 in 115 G, Heyward definitely made some improvements to his traditional stats. He still managed to hit 10 HR’s as well, which if that were translated over 162 games, assuming he’ll play 150, he’d have hit 3-5 more, which is in line with many of his other seasons.
A look at some of the deeper stats tells a good story as well. Heyward has been able to pull the ball more and hit the ball harder in 2017 than in 2016. His Pull % has jumped up an incredible 6.4%, and he’s been able to drop his Soft % down 1.1%, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but when it comes to the marathon that is the Major League Baseball Season, that’s pretty good.
In 2017, Heyward has so far been hitting the ball at a Med % at nearly 49.7%.
Many of you are probably glazing over at this point because all these numbers are running together. Here’s the point: Jason Heyward was able to reduce his time to impact, thus pulling the ball more, with a consistent hit rate. He turned out just fine.