Jason Heyward used to be really good. He used to have a 120 wRC+ with defense like this.
That isn’t even a great example of his range, but it ruined the chance for a Mets win, so I will never forget it.
When Jason Heyward played for the Braves, I hated going against him. He was the type of outfield prospect that the Mets could never develop, a two-way position player that anyone could build a team around. I was thrilled when the Braves shipped him to St. Louis, and I was totally okay with the Cubs’ huge contract offer in the 2015 offseason.
Now, with calls for Heyward to ride the bench for key moments of the Cubs’ World Series run, I don’t really understand what happened. The dude put up 27.6 fWAR in about 5 seasons. He was a legitimate superstar, particularly on defense, for the entirety of the 2010s. And now he’s a defensive replacement. He’s only 27. I don’t understand.
Also, he’s been quite good during this series, making big catches and coming up with some hits.
The defense is still there, but Cubs fans have been clamoring for Heyward’s benching because his bat has gone silent in 2016. The reasons are fairly obvious. His BABIP has cratered. His hard contact percentage is tied for a career-low (and would be lower if the postseason were included). His home run to fly ball rate has also collapsed to just 4.8 percent, a number that stems a combination of awful contact and bad luck. His OPS has dropped 166 points. I think he might have a nagging injury, but that’s just speculation.
I hope that Jason Heyward has a bounceback year in 2016, not because the Cubs need it to make the playoffs (they most certainly don’t), but because the game needs Jason Heyward to be good again. This was his big chance to become a national star with the Cubs, and he’s been completely overshadowed.
The Cubs should win Game 6 of the World Series. Josh Tomlin is inevitably going to slip, and the Cubs must jump on him early. Arrieta has to be mid-2015 Arrieta and not the merely decent pitcher he’s been recently. That’s all the analysis you really need.
The deep historical implications of this baseball game are more fascinating. This is already shaping up to be the most-remembered World Series of the decade since 2011, and the TV ratings back that up. With the Cubs notching a huge win at Wrigley, this Game 6 is the most-important game in baseball since the “David Freese game”, and is quite honestly one of the most compelling baseball moments I can remember.
If Francona and the Indians win, he cements his status as a future Hall of Fame manager, and the MLB gets a small-market champion for the second year in a row. Even more importantly, the MLB will get a “true saber” small-market champion, a long-awaited victory for the “analytics establishment”. Cleveland will also go crazy. Again.
For the Cubs, this game means more than the last 71 years combined. If you watched the Cubs fans singing “Go Cubs Go” at Wrigley on Sunday, you can see that these games are the most personally meaningful sporting events that most people in the crowd have seen. Having rooted for a team in the World Series, but not been around for that long, I can’t really imagine what these games are like.
I’m very excited. Game 6s are usually insane.