’Twas the winter of 2015-16. Jason Heyward wasn’t the best-available player in a well-stocked free agent class. But he was a high-quality performer and still tantalizingly young (26). While hardly a traditional corner outfield star due to his middling power, Heyward was well-established as a quality hitter and superlative defender and baserunner.
The debate raged long before the offseason arrived: how much can you really pay for a player like this? All agreed he was good. But the traditionalists howled at the notion of a right fielder who hadn’t even hit forty home runs over the prior three seasons landing a premium contract. The analytically minded countered that, well, runs are runs regardless of how they’re added or prevented. Heyward was a 6.9 rWAR / 5.6 fWAR performer in 2015. With exceptional glovework and a steady OBP, Heyward seemed to be a high-floor player who might have some ceiling as well.