OpinionApril 10, 2010

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The Time Is Now: Jason Heyward Is Here To Stay

By Tim George

2010 is supposedly the year of the Tiger.  I would argue that 2010 is actually the year of the young star, at least in Major League Baseball.  There are always prospects that draw a lot of fanfare, but 2010 stands out as the year of the prospect.  The game is moving from massive size-eight hats and syringes to pitching and defense. Baseball is changing and the influx of young talent is reaping the benefits.

In this series I will examine many of the names that are paving the way for the new and improved, post-steroid era in Major League Baseball. Not only can many of the young talents hit mammoth home runs, but they can also run and play defense.  More importantly, these players can have a major impact on your fantasy teams.

In 2010, the word talent is synonymous with one player: Jason Heyward. A fan doesn’t need to be a master of sabermetrics to understand that Heyward is something special. The 6′5″ 240-pound Heyward hits tape-measure bombs, plays great defense and gets fans excited. He definitely passes the eyeball test. Heyward started on the right foot, following up a great spring by taking Carlos Zambrano deep in the first at bat of his career. I’m guessing that everyone who passed on Heyward in fantasy drafts began to second-guess their decision at that point.

What can we expect from Heyward on our fantasy teams this year? To be honest, does anyone really know?  There’s never been another player as advanced as Heyward at the age of 20.  There has been a fascination with trying to compare Heyward to other players, but does that matter? It seems like any comparison just puts limits on Heyward’s ability.  People like to put limits on Heyward just because of his age.  Twenty is just a number. It does not show his freakish ability, plate discipline, and maturity. There should be some growing pains, but overall, I’m expecting good things.

Heyward’s value really fluctuated from league to league, but his MDP put him at 225 behind Dexter Fowler and ahead of Magglio Ordonez.  I’m sure there were plenty of leagues where someone jumped the gun and took a shot on him in the 10th round.  His upside and potential is unmatched by many of the players taken outside of the top 100 picks.  Overall, I expect good things from Heyward.  It’s definitely hard to pinpoint a projection on such a talented kid, but I would expect his line to look something like this: 75 R/25 HR/80 RBI/.285. That’s just a starting point, and there’s no doubt that he could go up from there.  He should be a lot of fun to follow and he’s obviously a must-own in keeper leagues.

Tim George is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Tim in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Timgeorge2.
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