Jason Heyward thriving in new leading role


Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was carrying a sub-.700 OPS near the end of July when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to move him from the #2 spot in the lineup, where he had hit for most of the season, to the lead-off spot. Despite owning baseball’s best record at 74-47, the Braves have lacked a “true” lead-off hitter for most of the season. Andrelton Simmons (.643 OPS) has led off 62 times and Jordan Schafer (.828 OPS) has led off 20 times but has also been injured for most of the season. Even B.J. Upton led off 13 times at the beginning of the season.

On July 27, Gonzalez moved Heyward up a spot in the lineup and it has been just what the doctor ordered. In 18 games since, Heyward is hitting .382/.455/.603. He has had multiple hits in six out of his last seven games. The Braves, meanwhile, have won 16 of those games (89%), averaging 5.4 runs per game. Their first place lead in the NL East has increased from 8.5 games to 14.5 games.

Because of his size and power potential, Heyward was never really thought of as a lead-off hitter, but he has the second-best walk-to-strikeout ratio on the team (0.67). He trails Simmons, but has reached base overall nearly seven percent more often, which is what really matters. Designating Heyward as the lead-off man was certainly not an obvious move, but considering how well things have gone for the Braves since, it was a necessary move.

A’s sign Brett Anderson to a minor league deal

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a minor league contract with Brett Anderson.

Anderson, you’ll likely recall, began his major league career with the Athletics in 2009 and pitched for Oakland through 2013. He had some success in Oakland, being named the Opening Day starter one year, but injuries have mounted for the lefty over the years. The last season in which he was healthy all year was 2015 in which he made 31 starts for the Dodgers. Last year he posted a 6.34 ERA and a 38/21 K/BB ratio in 55.1 innings across 13 starts for the Cubs and Blue Jays.

Organizational depth at worst, a veteran arm to eat some innings if things go well and a potential midseason trade chip if he enjoys a resurgence of health and a little bit of luck.