I was checking out some statistics on fangraphs.com when I noticed just how good Heyward has been and why I think he is only going to get better. Below is a table of Heyward and 4 other guys with similar HR and RBI totals that also happen to be really important to their teams. What originally struck me as amazing was the difference in ABs and how he was right there for HRs and RBIs. I then dug a little deeper and found some really interesting stuff that I will try to make sense off below.
Taking a look at the statistics..... and bear in mind Heyward is a 20 year old ROOKIE, these other guys are studs in their prime. For an explanation of any stat go to fangraphs.com, they do a great job of explaining.
AB - Heyward has significantly less ABs then the rest of the group and still has more RBIs (except Longoria) and the same or one less HR as everyone else. Why this is even more impressive is the fact that the Braves easily have the least amount of Runs Scored as a team. (NYY - 190, TB - 189, Phi -177, Tor - 171, Atl - 149) Heyward not only is producing more with less opportunities but he is also producing the highest percentage of his teams runs by a mile.
BB - Other stats will build more off of BBs. Heyward has 20 walks already and besides Utley has more then everyone else. In Terms of Walks per Plate Apearance Heyward gets walked the most. (BB/PA Heyward - .172, Utley - .169, Long - .101, Wells - .90, Cano - .77,)
SO - Heyward strikes out a little bit more on average then the rest of the group. This can be accounted to any number of things... including but not limited to his age, lack of experience, or lack of protection in the batting order. I personally think that he is just a rookie and major league pitching takes some serious time to adjust. He will finish the season with more BBs then Ks, and he has already shown an amazing ability to adjust.
OBP - Only Utley has a higher OBP and he barely beats him.
SLG - Only Cano beats him and it is really close. All of these hitters are right in the same range.
OPS - Combining the two makes OPS, which is an incredibly useful stat. Heyward has the highest OPS of the group. This is just so impressive considering the other guys on this list are just great great hitters.
AVE - The other guys on this list have him beat here. I think Heyward is going to end up over a .300 hitter, but as a 20 year old rookie he won't reach his AVE potential for a little while. That being said I will take .301 EVERYDAY of the week, even on sundays.
BABIP - Batting Average on Balls In Play. This stat is pretty useful in determining how much luck (or lack thereof) is involved in someones AVE. Hitters will have a career BABIP that makes it easy to determine whether a hitters AVE is higher or lower due to luck. Since Heyward is a rookie he doesn't have enough data to determine a legit career BABIP, but there are other ways to eyeball a BABIP and determine if he can maintain the current AVE or not. In Heywards case his BABIP is smack dab in the middle of this group. He also hits the ball extremely hard and has good speed, both of those will increase your BABIP. Career BABIP - Wells .290, Longoria .319, Cano .322, Utley .317. They are all performing a bit above their carrer BABIP which means they could be a little luckier then usual but it is still early. I feel that Heyward is right around where his career BABIP will end up so he should not have a dramatic increase or decrease over time in his current AVE (.301) *NOTE* this is an educated guess due to lack of significant data, but logic suggests he can maintain this BABIP and AVE.
WPA - Win Probability Added. This is an indepth stat that basically measures how a players performance helped or hurt his teams chances of winning. Heyward not only has the highest WPA of this group but is 2nd overall in baseball behind only Miguel Cabrera. This makes sense considering he accounts for the highest % of the Braves runs. I am not sure if WPA includes defensive statistics (anyone does it?) but this is just amazing to see Heyward helping out the Braves this much already.
O-Swing % - This is the percentage of pitches the batter swings at outside the strike zone. Heyward has the lowest % of the group and that just shows how good his eye is already. People raved about his plate discipline before he even played a major league game and we are seeing already just how good he really is.
Conclusion: As a 20 year old rookie I think Heyward has exceeded expectations already, and I think he is only going to get better. Statistics can only show so much and you can manipulate them to prove just about anything, but I feel that what makes Heyward so extra special is his mental makeup and demeanor.
*NOTE* You can make arguments that this is a small sample size (roughly 1/5 of the season). Honestly though... this is a Braves blog, be happy Heyward is doing this well and enjoy the damn stats.
I would love to hear about more stats or arguments for or against his season so far. I just love baseball, the Bravos, and Heyward (and Prado).
and go here and read #5 for more of Heywards awesomeness.