2011 Fantasy Projections, No. 35: How Good Can Atlanta Braves’ Jason Heyward Be In His Age-21 Season?
Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.
Jason Heyward proved to be as good as advertised last year, as the highly-touted rookie hit .277 with 18 HRs and 11 steals. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Heyward in 2010, however, was his incredible plate discipline, as the 20-year-old posted the sixth best walk rate (14.6 percent) in the majors.
The only knock on Heyward is an issue that’s been bothering him since the minors: injuries. Heyward missed 99 minor-league games in 2009 due to oblique and hip injuries and a jammed heel. His Arizona Fall League was then limited due to a strained hamstring and back inflammation. Last May, Heyward battled through a groin injury. In June, he played through a thumb injury for three weeks while his batting average dropped nearly 40 points. He eventually spent three weeks on the DL.
Despite posting an impressive line in 71 games after his DL stint (42 runs, 7 HRs, 27 RBI, 6 steals, .301 average), Heyward says his thumb still isn’t 100 percent.
Even still, Heyward is projected to bat second in a Braves lineup featuring Martin Prado, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla. Assuming a clean bill of health for all (which may be a stretch), Heyward could be in for major improvements in his sophomore season. His keeper/dynasty league value is off the charts, but for now, the 21-year-old is a top-35 player.
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Image courtesy of: Leon Kwan
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