over the hype

AP Photo/Rich Addicks, http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/photos?gameId=300405115&photoId=565065Well, he’s proved that his supporters weren’t being foolishly optimistic after all.

The Atlanta Braves’ rookie right fielder Jason Heyward has made his big-league debut, in an opening day that saw the Braves best the Cubs 16-5. Some inconsequential stuff also happened, like Lowe continuing to play “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Escobar driving in 5, and McCann homering. But the big story was Heyward’s three-run homer in the first. He also had an RBI single later in the game.

So this is what it comes down to: projections. Everyone knew Heyward would be good, but few had him pegged at being this good. Extrapolating his line of 2/5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 1 SO, Heyward’s monster 2010 season projects thusly:

.400, 162 HR, 648 RBI, 162 SO

Yes, Heyward is on track to become the first person to hit .400 since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941. Perhaps more astoundingly, he will more than double Barry Bonds’ single-season home run record of 73. And while he will more than triple the current RBI record (Hack Wilson, 191), even his most ardent fans will be upset by his 162 strikeouts and 0 walks. Still, Heyward’s contributions will easily outweigh those shortcomings en route to the first of many MVP seasons.

You heard it here first.

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