Jason Heyward’s Rapid Maturation

After struggling the first month of the season, Heyward has been as good as anyone so far in the month of May. Having the luxury of being able to watch him daily, I have noticed that he has been able to lay of sliders outside of the zone as well as breaking pitches below the zone. This is something that he was not able to do in the first month of the season. In April, Heyward struck out 34.7% of the time and walked only 14.6% of the time. So far in May, he has struck out only 5.6% of the time and walked 25.9% of the time. However, at the same time he has been a bit more aggressive. When he gets a good pitch to hit early in counts, he will usually take it. Heyward is seeing 4.47 pitches per plate appearance which is well above the league average of 3.86.

As a result, Heyward’s overall production has been much better. His May wOBA and RC+ are .675 and 329 respectively compared to .385 and 139 in April.

The changeup and slider are two pitches that gave Heyward a great deal of trouble in the first month of the season. Lets look at how Heyward has adjusted to these pitches so far in the month of May.

Changeup (April): seen 13% of the time, swung at 61% of the time, whiffed 30% of the time

Changeup (May): seen seen 18% of the time, swung at 45.5% of the time, whiffed 13.6% of the time

Slider (April): seen 16.6% of the time, swung at 42% of the time, whiffed 8.7% of the time

Slider (May): seen 15% of the time, swung at 44.4% of the time, whiffed 5.6% of the time

So as you can see Heyward is obviously adjusting to the changeup much better. He is seeing a higher dose of changes and hes whiffing less. Despite swinging at a higher percentage of sliders, he is whiffing less. I was looking at some pitch f/x graphs earlier and I noticed that Heyward has swung at pitches closer to the strike zone in general compared to the April graph. Of course, this months graph has a smaller sample but there is a noticeable difference.

Both months swing pitch graphs can be found here:

Is it a small sample size? Sure. But is Heyward adjusting rapidly to major league pitching? Absolutely.

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2 Comments on “Jason Heyward’s Rapid Maturation”

  1. Disco Says:

    Graphs still say no data found for me…

    in case its the same for others just sum up the graphical info here.

  2. wisf Says:

    That’s interesting. Of course, his May sample size is very small.

    The biggest negative that has stuck out to me in regards to Heyward was his at bat against Marmol when Marmol through three straight sliders down, in, and pretty far out of the strike zone to Heyward. Heyward swung and missed terribly at each one. Marmol’s slider is one of the hardest pitches in baseball to hit, but for Heyward to fail to pick up on essentially the exact same pitch three straight times was a bit concerning. Improving against the slider and change would be promising to say the least.

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