Would you believe me if I told you Jason Heyward‘s play hasn’t cost the Cubs anything this postseason? You might. After all, following their victory over the Dodgers on Saturday, the Cubs are now heading to the World Series. That said, you might be more inclined to believe that the Cubs advanced to the World Series in spite of Jason Heyward’s poor play. After all, in 30 postseason plate appearances, he’s reached base just four times — and one of those four was the product of an intentional walk. Heyward has followed up a very poor regular season at the plate with an even worse postseason, and after several benchings in the earlier rounds of the playoffs, there’s a question as to whether Heyward should start a game in the World Series. And there’s not an easy answer.
In the games during which he’s been benched, Heyward’s replacements, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, have combined for an overall 0-for-17 mark with two walks, a sac bunt, and one double play (including all PA from Soler and Amora). Heyward hasn’t had too many big opportunities in the field, but his 90 mph throw to nab Adrian Gonzalez at the plate in Game One of the NLCS was an important moment in that contest. And for as poor as Heyward’s been offensively, he’s at least been timely: two of his four hits have been of the leadoff, extra-base variety in one-run ballgames, so his WPA in the playoffs is actually the same as Ben Zobrist‘s (at -0.32) and not too far off of Dexter Fowler‘s -0.15 — to say nothing of the defensive plays not counted in WPA. Of course, looking at the past 10 games and counting a couple timely hits as worth more due to sequencing is a very poor way to make future decisions. If the Cubs knew in advance Heyward would hit that poorly in the first two rounds, they likely wouldn’t have played him.