In case anyone missed it, Chipper Jones retired. The face of the franchise for almost two decades won’t be playing in the hot corner anymore. In his absence are huge shoes to fill, both at third base and as the leader of the team. We know Chris Johnson will take over at third base after receiving him from Arizona in the Justin Upton trade that sent away Martin Prado, the previous favorite to take over third base. But who will become the new leader of the team? Is it Jason Heyward, the young right fielder with enormous potential? Is it their veteran catcher, Brian McCann, who is one of the best offensive catchers in baseball? Could it be either of the Upton brothers, who are both on their first year on the Braves and looking to bounce back after relatively down seasons? Or might they have a situation where they have many faces of the franchise? For the next couple weeks building up to Opening Day I will look at different possibilities to take over as the new face of the franchise and make a case for each player.
Let’s start with the man who hit a home run in his first career at bat just a few years ago…
#22 Jason Heyward RF
This seemed like the obvious chioce as the new face of the franchise after being drafted by the Braves a few years back. He was a young, charasmatic star with leadership potential and a lot of talent. He was immediately a fan favorite, before he even took the field for the first time. J-Hey has been a force in the middle of the Braves’ lineup since his rookie year, and he should be even more of a threat now that he has some other big bats around him in the lineup. Something he does need to work on is his strikeouts. Over his three year career he has 373 strikeouts in 1,503 at-bats, and only 19 more hits.
Heyward has, without question, been consistantly solid in the outfield. He already has a Gold Glove under his belt, as he will be the defending National Leaue right field Gold Glove winner this season. He has only 17 errors with a .979 career fielding percentage.
Perhaps most importantly, like Chipper, Heyward has been on the Braves his entire career (so far). He already has an established place on the team and in the city. As a familiar face with loads of skill and much more talent left to be unleashed, Jason Heyward is a logical choice to become the new face of the franchise.
Is Jason Heyward a good fit to take over the team? Is there a reason he shoudln’t be?
Next week I’ll look at catcher Brian McCann.