Jason Heyward is having his best season since 2019 but his impact on the Los Angeles Dodgers has transcended his play on the field.
“Everyone just loves Jason Heyward,” Freddie Freeman said.(Via Bill Plunkett, The Orange County Register)
Freeman, who has had a career year himself, was born just a month after Heyward and was drafted by the Atlanta Braves a round after. He knew how valuable bringing in Heyward, fresh off being cut by the Chicago Cubs, could be for a team that turned out to rely on some of their youngest players despite having the oldest roster in baseball.
“It’s just natural to him. He’s not even trying to be the guy. It just happens. And it happens wherever he’s been,” said Freeman. regarding Heyward’s ability to be a leader. “You talk to the Cardinals, the Braves, the Cubs He’s never been the guy, ‘I’m going to stand up and do this.’ It just naturally happens. People gravitate towards him. That’s why I fought so hard for him to get here.”(Via Bill Plunkett, The Orange County Register)
Outfielder James Outman has benefited from Heyward’s leadership during his .254 average, 23 home run rookie season. The 2018 seventh-rounder has become an integral part of the Dodgers’ everyday roster, holding a 118 wRC+ (wRC+ takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for important external factors — like ballpark or era). Having Heyward around has helped him adjust to the big leagues and focus on his craft.
“He’s just been a great mentor to me,” Outman said. “Kind of ever since spring training, he’s always trying to help me get better.”(Via Bill Plunkett, The Orange County Register)
Max Muncy, who blasted 36 home runs this season to tie his career-high, emphasized the ubiquity of Heywards’ positive impact.
“He’s such a great guy. He’s so positive. He’s always there picking everybody up. That’s what he’s best at,” Muncy said. “He’s always doing it on an everyday basis. He’s never wavered from who he was. That speaks to his character. He’s been a special guy to be around. I feel like he’s made everyone in the clubhouse better – not just better teammates but better people too.”(Via Bill Plunkett, The Orange County Register)
Heyward and the Dodgers will await the winner of the Diamondbacks-Brewers series in the divisional series, which begins Saturday. The Diamondbacks took Game 1 Tuesday night in a 6-3 win.
Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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