Jason Heyward isn't likely to become the power-hitting cleanup hitter that the St. Louis Cardinals were hoping that Oscar Taveras would develop into.
But the former Atlanta Braves outfielder could give the Redbirds a balanced attack that makes every part of the St. Louis lineup a threat.
Heyward usually batted first or second with Atlanta, serving more as a table setter than a slugger despite his size, 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. He averaged only about 12 home runs over the past two seasons. But he hit 27 homers in 2012 and the Cardinals told ESPN they believe Heyward sacrificed power for on base percentage because the Braves chose to use him in the lead off slot of the batting order.
While the Birds can't count on 27 homers from Heyward in 2015, a total of 15-20 isn't out of the question. It's also not out of the question for Matt Carpenter, Matt Holliday, Matt Adams, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina or Kolten Wong to hit 15-20 homers. Instead of one guy who might hit 40 long balls, just about anyone in the batting order could hit one -- dealing a serious blow to opposing pitchers -- at any time.
That could be an especially potent batting order. Especially if whatever conspired to hold power down across the board in baseball last season disappears.
The Cardinals have expressed interest in moving Carpenter out of the lead off spot for 2015 to free up some of the power in his bat. But I'd like to see him remain there and Heyward bat second against righty pitchers to free up the natural explosiveness of Heyward's swing.