Jason Heyward stole his career-high 15th base of the season on Saturday against the Phillies and hit his 16th home run Sunday against Roy Halladay, moving him over the plateau of 15 or more home runs and 15 stolen bases on the season.
Heyward was the sixth player in the majors to reach 15/15 this season, along with the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, Nationals’ Ian Desmond, Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez, White Sox’ Alex Rios and Angels’ Mike Trout.
Heyward has two months to become the Braves’ first 20-steal, 20-homer man since Andruw Jones in 2000, when he hit 36 home runs and stole 21 bases.
“Fifteen stolen bases is not a lot and I’m not content with 16 homers,” said Heyward, whose career-high in home runs is 18. “I want to keep going. More production means more wins, especially from the No. 3 hole, you’ve got guys in front of you.”
The Braves have had only 20 players in franchise history reach both 20 home runs and 20 steals in a season.
“He’s got the all-around game,” said Chipper Jones, who was 20/20 twice in his career, in 1997 and his MVP year in 1999. “He can hit the ball in the gaps and run. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark, we know that. He can help us manufacture runs, steal bases, and as we get him to cut down on strikeouts you’re going to see those numbers go up.”
Jones has no problem seeing Heyward reach the 30-30 plateau before long. But it’s the fact that he’s holding his own in the all-important No. 3 hole that’s impressed him.
“If Walk and Fletch and myself had said to ourselves this offseason, at the 100-game mark JHey would be hitting third, we’d be like ‘Hell yeah,’” Jones said, referring to the work he did assisting hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher with Heyward after an off 2011 season. “He was a big project.”
Heyward has hit third for the 25th consecutive game on Sunday since June 29. He drove in the game-winning run in Saturday 2-1 win over the Phillies to give him 11 game-winning RBIs on the season, which leads the team.
Jones said one of the biggest adjustments Heyward has made this season was laying off inside pitches.
“I think he’s done a better job this year of recognizing what is a strike and what is not inside, and it’s allowed him to be more consistent on the outside corner,” Jones said. “That’s where he’s going to do his damage is out there, when you can get extended.”