Jason Heyward says the Braves limited his power by batting leadoff


Jason Heyward was used as a leadoff hitter an awful lot by the Braves last year. He tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that that limited him as a hitter:

When describing how stymied he felt at times batting leadoff for the Atlanta Braves, Gold Glove-winning outfielder Jason Heyward borrowed an analogy from the field. It’s playing long toss and really wanting to cut loose with a full-strength throw but having to hit a target 90 feet away.

“You feel like there’s a governor on you and you’re not letting it ride,” Heyward said. “You have to think of other ways.”

I find this interesting because, in Heyward’s first couple of seasons, the Braves were often reported to be frustrated that he was as selective as he was and they wanted him to be more aggressive at the plate. For them to suggest to him — explicitly or otherwise — that he shouldn’t do that would therefore be quite a switch, even once you account for his move to the leadoff position. I mean, the Braves haven’t often been accused of going overboard in preaching patience at the plate. They’ve put B.J/Melvin Upton in the leadoff an AWFUL lot for crying out loud.

Poor communication, maybe? Heyward thinking that it was his job to cut down on his swing while the Braves not being clear to him about what they wanted? Heyward and/or the Braves forgetting that home runs are welcome from leadoff hitters too? Post-hoc explanation of a situation with which no one was happy?

I love Heyward and I’m frequently hard on the Braves, particular when it involves what we hear about what they expect from hitters’ approach at the plate. But in this case I’d be inclined to want to hear Atlanta’s side of the story before totally buying into the notion that the team limited him somehow, intentionally and specifically or otherwise.

Either way, Heyward won’t be batting leadoff in St. Louis.

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

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I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.