Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Keith Law says Chris Heisey primed for breakout season

ESPN's Keith Law recently highlighted eight players who he believes are destined to take a leap forward in performance this season. One of those players he included was Reds platoon outfielder Chris Heisey.

Here is what Law had to say about him:
I've always thought the Reds didn't like Heisey, given how they've relegated him to super-sub duty in the outfield. But other execs have told me the Reds refused to discuss him in deals this winter, so perhaps they are likely to give him the playing time he deserves -- especially with no true center fielder on the roster. Heisey is a better pure hitter at this point than Ryan Ludwick, who isn't likely to hit 26 homers again at age 34.
Heisey's performance in 2011 (16 HR, 50 RBI) suggested bigger things were to come in 2012, but that wasn't necessarily the case. Heisey received nearly 70 more at-bats last season than he did in '11, but his power numbers didn't rise as the team hoped it would. He hit just five homers and drove in 19 fewers runs, while his average, on-base percentage, and strikeout-to-walk ratio stayed about the same.

Meanwhile, Ludwick emerged as a major offensive weapon once Joey Votto went down to injury, helping carry the team to a second division crown in three years. Being that the Reds re-signed Ludwick to a more lucrative contract this offseason, I would expect them to give him every possible chance to play in left field again this year, which may mean a reduced role for Heisey, at least in left field.

Heisey could see more time in center now that Drew Stubbs is gone, and assuming Shin-Soo Cho will need a rest from time to time, but I don't know if Heisey will see enough playing time to experience the breakout season Law is calling for. I would love to be proved wrong, as I really enjoy the way Heisey plays the game, but I for one just don't see it happening.

Heisey will once again serve Dusty Baker as a great role player, who can come off the bench to pinch run, pinch hit, or be inserted as a late-game defensive sub, with an occasional spot start 2-3 times a week.

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