Kicking Rocks: The Say Nay Kid

::lights fade in::

There is a small wooden table in the middle of an otherwise empty stage, next to it, a small wastepaper basket; a lone door set upstage right.

Somebody That I Used To Know by Gotye begins to play.

Howard Bender, dressed in jeans, sneakers, Atlanta Braves jersey and Atlanta Braves cap, enters through upstage door. He appears sullen and dejected.

He slowly walks downstage and stops just behind the table, removes his cap and sets it down on the table top. He then reaches for wastepaper basket, picks it up and sets it on the table. He puts the hat into it. He slowly removes the Braves jersey, reveals the number 22 and the name Heyward on the back. He places the jersey into the wastepaper basket. He then pulls out a single wooden matchstick from his pocket, strikes it against the table and holds it up to show the audience the burning flame. He drops it into the wastepaper basket and in seconds a large fire emerges from the basket.

Howard looks to the audience, shrugs, and without a word, walks back upstage to the door and exits.

::lights fade out::


What can I say, people? What can I say? My first mea cupla of the season is indeed a doozy. I started back in mid-January with a Keeper League Would You Rather and said that I would take Jason Heyward over Bryce Harper and then followed it up a week later declaring that Heyward was the guy you would all want to own this season. And despite a poor spring, my faith never wavered and in my 10 Bold Predictions, proclaimed that the Braves would win the NL pennant and Heyward would win the NL MVP. As the Braves sit with the best record in baseball and are 14 games in front of the Nationals in the NL East, I couldn’t care less about partial credit. This one was ugly.

Heyward genuinely seemed primed to put it all together here in his fourth season with the Braves. Yes, his walk rate diminished and his strikeout rate rose during his third season, but the surge in power was outstanding and it looked as if he was finally ready to live up to the hype we endured in 2010. He would re-adjust to fix those walks and strikeouts while maintaining both the power and speed we were now enjoying. Or so I thought.

April and May were a train wreck, marred by a .146 average, no power, no speed and an appendectomy that didn’t exactly scream “rebound coming.” He did manage to produce well in June, batting .312 with four home runs and nine RBI, but he immediately dropped again in July as he his .230 and was in and out of the lineup throughout the second half of the month with a hamstring problem. Hope began to brew in August as Heyward started out on-fire, batting .348 with four home runs and 10 RBI in just the first 18 games, and both a strong finish and a bit of redemption seemed to be in the works. But on August 21st, Mets pitcher Jonathon Niese put an end to any further hope as he hit Heyward with a pitch up and in, fracturing the outfielder’s jaw and putting him on the shelf for the remainder of the regular season. While devastating, it seemed to be the perfect ending to a year in which the baseball gods opted to use both me and Heyward as their personal toilet.

We all want to know where it went wrong? Where didn’t it go wrong? Between disappointing plate appearances, low BABIP totals (read: bad luck), and injuries, there are very few places where this season went right. Even when things were looking good and hope was building, there was always an unsettling feeling that doom and gloom was right around the corner.

The season was a disaster. There’s no other way to put it. But to compound the ugliness was the fact that I hung my hat on Heyward so much that it killed me in six different leagues. I managed to sell him in a couple but, sadly, for less than what I paid for him. And that’s where the real problem was. Heyward’s 2012 season, the expectations for him in 2013, the hope and the hype all pushed his ADP up towards the second and third round of most 12-team leagues. As much as I hate to say it, I was easily better of grabbing Jacoby Ellsbury instead.

Ah well…..hindsight. It’s always 20/20.

So to all of you who heeded my advice and suffered through the nightmare that was Jason Heyward’s season, you have my deepest sympathies. Come meet me at the next San Francisco meet-up and I’ll buy you a craft beer to cry in and supply a nice big bag of rocks for us to kick together.

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

29 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: The Say Nay Kid”

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  1. Kevin says:

    The lack of speed is one part I still don’t get. After 21 SB in 2012 Heyward only attempted one steal per month from April-August. And the success rate was awful too (2 for 6). If he ends up under 10SB going forward, then is he a poor man’s Jay Bruce?

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    • The Braves just aren’t running this year. They have attempted just 0.52 steals per game this season, compared to 0.82 last year. That’s an enormous decline. I’m guessing the increased power (0.157 ISO this year, 0.142 ISO last year) has discouraged Fredi from having his men run as often.

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      • Howard Bender says:

        Yeah, Fredi was never big on running to begin with, which is one of the reasons Bourn had no desire to re-sign — not that they were really pushing to retain him anyway. It’s one of the reasons I was never high on BJ Upton coming over (mentioned below). Still, I think had Heyward done what he was expected to do, power and average-wise, then the stolen bases would have come a little more than they did. Sigh.

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  2. John Elway says:

    Hay! For a second there I thought this would be another article about me.

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  3. Josef says:

    I’m in a 12-team keep-5 league. Last year Heyward was one of my five. I don’t think he makes the cut this offseason. I picked up Machado and Segura in the draft and I think they’ll join McCutchen, Strasburg and Kimbrel as my five for 2014. Maybe I’ll pick Heyward up in the draft.

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  4. D says:

    The process that led you to recommend Heyward was fine. Keith Law had him as the NL MVP too.
    Just an unlucky year. Call it a line out. Buy low next year.

    No help to Fantasy, but a year that is a total disaster still has a 3 WAR.

    BJ Upton is another story.

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    • Jason B says:

      It wasn’t just that he was unlucky. There was a share of that, sure. But he was legitimately bad (or at least, not good) at times.

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  5. Wobatus says:

    Should have played Just Someone I Used to Know by Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.

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  6. Rob Sutton says:

    Someone in my keeper league dropped his $28 Heyward. I picked him up for $7, then when he got hot, flipped him back to the same guy for a $7 Cespedes. Then three weeks later he broke his jaw. I look like a genius.

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  7. dragnalus says:

    “You never did” – The Kenosha Kid

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  8. supershredder says:

    Somehow I got suckered into owning Heyward in 75% of my leagues. I was sure he was going to light it up … him and Cespedes, too. Tried trading Heyward all summer long but never could. And just when he started lighting it up this had to happen. The last two weeks or so felt so good! Certainly an appropriate, though heart-wrenching finish to his season.

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  9. awalnoha says:

    Just a question but why don’t MLB team really look to improve the technology in batting helmets. He got hit in the helmet with a fastball. If they were better his injury would be much less. Also, broken jaw, he should be back in 2-3 weeks except for the loss of protein and weight. I would have him play in minor league game at least to stay sharp. He could wear super helmet for these games. Think QB helmet.

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    • Kevin says:

      To the first point, the ball hit below his helmet so to prevent this the helmet would have to extend further down a player’s face. As for the rehab, I’m not sure any helmet would prevent the pain from such rapid and jerky movements in an at bat.

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      • Norm says:

        We’re at or nearing the point at which no rehab games can be played because the minor leagues have finished.

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