How Jason Heyward can provide a spark to the Dodgers’ lineup

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets - Game One
Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets - Game One / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

True offensive production is a group endeavor, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are specifically looking for the bottom of their order to pick up the slack and aid the big three of Freddie Freeman, Shohei Ohtani, and Mookie Betts.

Of course, these three hitters can carry the offense during some stretches, but portions of May have shown the importance of receiving offensive contributions from the bottom third of the order. Now that he’s officially returned from a back injury that had kept him sidelined, Jason Heyward could provide a spark by being selective at the plate.

Heyward is no longer the phenom he was as a member of the Atlanta Braves many moons ago (remember that?), but the vet still possesses qualities that could be useful. During his 2023 campaign, the New Jersey native ranked in the 82nd percentile in K% and the 74th percentile in Whiff%. His Barrel% and average exit velocity were nothing to write home about, but his 15 home runs and .813 OPS helped form a season that the lefty could be proud of. All told, his 121 wRC+ ranked fourth among the Dodgers’ main cast.

Jason Heyward could be a catalyst towards the bottom of the Dodgers' lineup

At this stage of the 34-year old’s career, all you can really ask is that he puts together competitive at-bats and doesn’t become a liability. Heyward was better than expected last season, and the advanced stats support the suggestion that he could do it again, with time, this year. He may not hit 15 home runs, but the Dodgers would gladly take a Heyward who understands that being selective at the plate will ultimately help both him and the team.

By the conclusion of LA’s series against the New York Mets, Heyward held a .333 OBP over his last seven games.

It could be argued that the former first-round pick could enhance his play by working more walks. He ranked in the 57th percentile with a 9.0 BB% last year, but if he could improve upon this mark as the season progresses, he’d essentially be serving as a catalyst for other hitters towards the bottom of the order and, by extension, the big three.

It would be fascinating to see what LA’s bottom third would look like if Heyward could maintain 80% of the offensive production he posted last year and strive for more walks, while still bringing essential leadership qualities to the table.