In this day and age, sports figures are identified more by their contracts than their play and overall impact to the team that pays them.
One of those players is our MLBbro, Jason Heyward, who may have an unfair legacy of not living up to the eight-year, $184 million contract the Chicago Cubs handed him before the 2016 season.
After Heyward’s 2015 season with slashes of .293/.359/.439 at the plate and second-straight Gold Glove Award in the field, the Cubs and their fanbase thought they had stolen a franchise player from their division rival, the Cardinals.
Our MLBbro aka “J-Hey”’s combination of solid hitting and better defense in the outfield was supposed to be the cornerstone of Chicago’s North side success for years to come.
Seven years later, some fans and media members have given up on Heyward’s worth to the team.
His slash line of .248/.280/.347 with 281 RBI over 710 games doesn’t add up to his salary. But what gets overlooked by many in professional sports is his veteran leadership behind the scenes. Some of it balances out the struggles that fans see on the field.
Nothing illustrates this point more for Jason Heyward and the Chicago Cubs than Game 7 of the World Series back in 2016. J-Hey called a team meeting during a rain delay to rally his teammates to the Cubs’ first World Championship in 108 years.
Just think of how much his teammates respected our MLBbro to lock in after his speech – despite Heyward batting .104 (5-48) over 16 games in the postseason. This is the example of leadership and respect he provides in the dugout as a liaison between the manager, coaches and players. Championship teams need that one player. Heyward has been one for years.
Social Media As A Team-Building Tool
With the Cubs stumbling out of the gate at 11-19, Heyward has used social media to keep his teammates inspired through this rough patch.
Jason Heyward staying positive on IG, and his teammates appreciate it. pic.twitter.com/ULqmB9pJw7
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 5, 2022
Despite his .222 batting average with only three RBI, his leadership and professionalism is appreciated by Cubs President, Jed Hoyer according to NBCSports.com.
“He’s a guy who had a lot of [veteran] players that influenced him as a young player in Atlanta, and he kind of pays it back now,” Hoyer said, referring to, among others, his current manager, David Ross. “He’s really good with those [young] guys. Everyone always talks about Jason being such a pro, how he handles all of his business off the field, how he prepares for games, how he prepares in the offseason. Everything he does is kind of first class in that regard.”
With Jason’s career winding down, his latest message to his peers: don’t take baseball for granted.
“And be on winning teams for the most part. I’ve done a lot of that,” he said. “Enough to appreciate what it’s like to have winning seasons and to feel what it’s like to lose. To see transitions happen. I’ve been a part of three of those now, in Atlanta, in St. Louis and then of course here.”
“We’ll see what happens,” Heyward said. “I know I have less years ahead of me than I do behind me, and I’m grateful for that.”
“The rest will take care of itself.”