Admittedly, typing the title of this piece made my stomach churn a bit; Jason Heyward was one of the most highly touted prospects in MLB history, not just the Braves organization. He was given comparisons to Hank Aaron before he even stepped on a major-league diamond, and those expectations only grew after he hit a home run in his first at-bat on Opening Day back in 2010.
Jason Heyward homering in his first career at-bat was an electric moment. pic.twitter.com/0nElzWKPxD
— MLB Vault (@MLBVault) February 20, 2021
Heyward would go on to have a stellar first season, making the NL All-Star team and finishing second in the Rookie of the Year race. However, little did we know that would be the best season he ever put together offensively.
Heyward was never a bad player. He won five Gold Gloves, three of which came with the Braves. But for whatever reason, he never blossomed into the perennial All-Star that many thought he would become and was eventually traded to the Cardinals before the 2015 season. Heyward would then sign a mega-contract with the Cubs the following year, where he became a World Series champion, but by the end of the deal, it was one of the worst contracts in baseball. Many thought his career was finished, but he signed a minor-league pact with the Dodgers this past offseason and is currently experiencing a career resurgence.
Over 170 plate appearances, Heyward is hitting .265 with eight homers and an .838 OPS. If the season ended today, that would be his highest OPS since his memorable rookie campaign, and of course, he’s still an elite defensive player in the outfield.
Like most Braves fans, the Dodgers might be my least favorite team in the league. Watching Freddie Freeman and Heyward don their historic blue and white jerseys feels dirty, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see Heyward finding success. He’s a consummate professional that is well regarded in every city that he’s played for, whether he lived up to expectations or not. That says a lot about a person, and while I wish the Dodgers no success, I do hope Jason Heyward can continue this level of play and parlay it into another contract this offseason.