Generally considered the top right fielder in baseball, Jason Heyward was recently ranked as the fifth best centerfielder in the game by MLB Network.
Despite playing only 32 regular season games in center field, “The Shredder” placed Heyward behind only Mike Trout, A.J. Pollock, Lorenzo Cain and Andrew McCutchen on the Top 10 list of centerfielders.
The Cubs plan to use Heyward as the primary centerfielder, at least early in games, when the season starts. Heyward has three Gold Gloves as a right fielder on his mantle and the Cubs think he will provide above average defense in center field.
MLB Network’s Top 10 Centerfielders: Mike Trout (Angels), A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks), Lorenzo Cain (Royals), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Jason Heyward (Cubs), Adam Eaton (White Sox), Kevin Kiermaier (Rays), Randal Grichuk (Cardinals), Carlos Gomez (Astros) and Adam Jones (Orioles)
Brian Kenny thinks Heyward should be ranked as the sixth best centerfielder behind Trout, McCutchen, Cain, Pollock and Jones. And Eric Byrnes feels Heyward should be seventh on the list of top centerfielders behind Trout, McCutchen, Cain, Pollock, Jones and Jackie Bradley Jr..
Heyward is coming off a good season offensively with the Cardinals. Heyward batted .293/.359/.439 with 33 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs for a .797 OPS. Heyward had 56 walks and 90 strikeouts in 610 plate appearances.
Last year, Heyward set career-highs in hits (160), doubles (33), stolen bases (23) and batting average (.293).
As a centerfielder, Heyward owns a .267/.388/.406 line in 32 games with five doubles, three home runs and a .794 OPS. Heyward lined up in center field for 10 games, eight starts, with the Cardinals last year in the regular season.
Steamer projects Jason Heyward to hit .284/.362/.449 with 34 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs and a .810 during the upcoming season.
Kyle Schwarber did not make the list of the top 10 left fielders according to “The Shredder.” MLB Network ranked the Top 10 Left Fielders: Michael Brantley (Indians), Starling Marte (Pirates), Justin Upton (Tigers), Yoenis Cespedes (Mets), Alex Gordon (Royals), David Peralta (Diamondbacks), Christian Yelich (Marlins), Matt Holliday (Cardinals), Corey Dickerson (Rays) and Brett Gardner (Yankees)
Kyle Schwarber did make Cliff Floyd and Brian Kenny’s lists of the top left fielders in the game. ‘Uncle Cliffy’ ranked Schwarber as the seventh best left fielder and Kenny had Schwarber No. 9 on his list.
As a left fielder last year, Schwarber hit .212/.346/.462 with three doubles and 10 home runs for a .808 OPS in 41 games.
Kyle Schwarber is expected to see a majority of his playing time in the outfield during the upcoming season. Steamer is projecting him to bat .261/.345/.474 with 21 doubles, two triples, 25 home runs and a .819 in 2016.