Dodgers News: MLB Analysts Think Jason Heyward’s Hot Start is the Real Deal
One of the biggest surprises of the first week of the Dodgers 2023 season is the play of Jason Heyward. The Dodgers signed the longtime MLB veteran to a minor league deal this offseason, in what seemed to be a non-factor type of move.
Heyward, however, immediately started putting in work at Dodger Stadium, and once his friend Freddie Freeman started singing his praises, it became clear that this move had a little more to it.
Then, Heyward started getting some hits in spring training, and it didn’t take long for Dave Roberts to confirm that he would be on the Opening Day roster. We still didn’t know how much playing time he was going to get out of that, but one week in, it’s clear that he’s going to be a part of the consistent platoon in the outfield — and quite frankly, he’s earning more time as the days go on.
Heyward has appeared in four games this season, and had 10 plate appearances. He’s 3-for-9 with two home runs and four RBIs, good for an impressive OPS of 1.300.
Heyward, a five-time Gold Glove Award winner, was always going to have the opportunity to earn some playing time due to his play in the outfield. However, this plus bat was far from expected, and is a testament to the work he put in with the Dodgers coaching staff the last few months.
On MLB Network, Steve Phillips and Mike Lowell joined MLB Now for a conversation on J-Hey’s hot start to the 2023 campaign. They were asked if this was just a small sample size, or if had made a real adjustment and could be a contributing player for the Dodgers this season.
“He’s absolutely made an adjustment,” Phillips said. “They worked in the offseason. Dave Roberts said he bought into it, complete change in his swing. Even his setup and his stance is different. He used to just hook everything, he’d swing around the ball, hit the outside of the ball. … He’s changed it, and the Cubs are paying him and he’s reaping the benefits of this with the Dodgers.”
For those who don’t know, the Cubs released Heyward, eating the final $22 million in his contract. So, the Dodgers are paying Heyward just $720 thousand, while the Cubs are paying more than 30 times that — and getting absolutely none of the benefits.
If Heyward’s season ended right here, it would already have to be looked at as a positive. At the end of the day, the Dodgers are pretty much playing with house money — and Heyward’s on-field impact is only a part of what he’s brought to the clubhouse.
However, two home runs in 10 plate appearances is quite the accomplishment, and if he can continue swinging a hot bat, the Dodgers are yet again going to look like the geniuses of the league.
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Spoiler Alert: It’s not the real deal. Heyward’s saving grace was strong defense and that’s been on a large decline for a few years now. He’s had a hot start before, he’ll be back to grounding into double plays every at-bat in no time.