Jason Heyward, the J-Hey kid

I’ve noticed that my projection system, available at baseballprojection.com, has the lowest forecast for the new right fielder in Atlanta. I have him projected to hit a pedestrian 258/324/416. First of all, it doesn’t bother me after having the lowest 2009 projection for Matt Wieters (274/352/439) when other projection systems were filling out his HOF ballot. He wound up hitting 288/340/412. But I must point out that this low projection for his age 20 rookie season does not mean I don’t think he’s destined for greatness. Running the multi-year forecast for him, I have a 299/377/503 projection for his age 23 season, and a peak projection at 27 of 313/400/536. This is just a midpoint, at 6’5 and 240 pounds he could become a great power hitter, maybe the next Ken Griffey Jr., but we don’t know that, he could wind up just another Ruben Sierra.

Even if he isn’t a great player this year, players who can play in the big leagues at age 20 are much more likely to be great players. Here are the age 20 seasons of a few other greats or potential greats:

Hank Aaron 280/322/447
Willie Mays 274/356/472
Justin Upton 250/353/463

Mickey Mantle and Griffey Junior debuted at age 19, their first season against big league pitchers were similar:

Mantle 267/349/443
Junior 264/329/420

The projection says I’m not ready to put him ahead of guys like that. You never know though, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, and Frank Robinson debuted at age 20, and were superstars from day 1.

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  1. Dan in Philly said...

    How you can project any 20 year old to hit like an all-star before we know what pitcher will do when they find out his weaknesses is beyond me.  Sure, he might be great, but it’s also entirely likely he won’t.  Pitchers will find holes in his swing, it’s what pitchers do.  What will he do then?  What will he be able to do?  It’s just too early to tell.

  2. Paul said...

    Obviously, the earlier your debut, the more likely the sooner you’ll “figure it out”. I’ll take the careers of the < 24 years of age debut players over the > 24 – no real, breakthrough insight there….
      Many years ago, Reuben Amaro Jr. made his debut at age 26 (?) and he himself compared his rookie season (in the press) to Barry Bonds’. They looked very similar statistically – except Bonds was 21. We know how those two careers played out.
      Somehow, I believe Heyward will figure it out – and kudos to the Atlanta organization for strapping on a set of testicles and letting him play in April despite the arbitration eligibility and free agency consequences

  3. David Gassko said...


    Just to be clear, there was a bug in the first version of projections we released which was promptly fixed. Currently, Oliver projects Heyward to hit .281/.341/.451, which is better than his CHONE projection, but that doesn’t mean that his CHONE projection is better. Note that his age 23 projection is similar in both systems, and CHONE’s peak projection is actually way better than anything Oliver ever sees Heyward doing. So basically, CHONE presumes more growth for Heyward, while Oliver sees him as a better player today.

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