Chicago Cubs: Jason Heyward could be the key to another playoff run

(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Jason Heyward could be a huge part of the Chicago Cubs success deep into the season.

When the Chicago Cubs signed Jason Heyward to an 8-year $184 million deal, it’s safe to say that they expected a lot more production than they’ve gotten to this point. And with a contract of that length and size, the front office and fans alike were well within reason to have been extremely disappointed with his performance through the first three years of the deal.

Heyward, still just 29-years old, was not widely known for his elite, gold-glove caliber defense in right field, but he was also regarded as a tough out at the plate and a solid middle of the order guy at the time of his signing. And while his exceptional defense remains, he’s been mostly known for his inspirational speech given during the infamous rain-delay of game 7 of the World Series, as he’s had very little impact on the offense of the team.

This year, however, is a different story entirely. Although we are still only in April, Heyward’s numbers at the plate have been off the chart and he is easily one of the best hitters in the Cubs lineup at this current moment.

With a slash line of .329/.450/.587 and an OPS of 1.026, Heyward is off to a resurgent start and he’s shown no signs of slowing down. This is likely due to his new approach where he seems to be waiting back on the ball just a bit more than he had in the past. He’s also standing a few inches farther back from the plate to help fight off the pitches inside, and the result of these minor changes has been more balls driven with authority and fewer balls rolled over for groundouts.

His power numbers have been no joke, either. After hitting only eight home runs all of last season, he’s already got five in the month of April alone and is pace to at least tie, if not surpass his career high of 27 set back in his third season. Whether or not he that achieves remains to be seen.

With guys like Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo off to a slow start, Heyward is one of the main reasons the Cubs offense has been so prominent and why they’ve managed to even stay afloat after a rough start to the year.

Now that the starting pitching and bullpen seem to have stabilized, the Cubs appear to poised to go on a run and get back to their winning ways. If Heyward keeps up his torrid pace offensively, a return to the playoffs is all but imminent.

Next. Cubs: Addison Russell's return will divide fanbase. dark

How far they advance beyond that point remains in question. Because if last year taught us anything, hopes and dreams of a deep run can be diminished in the blink of an eye.