Jason Heyward: Signs He Will Have a Monster Second Half for the Atlanta Braves

Herb HatleeContributor IIIJuly 11, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 03:  Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves reacts after hitting a solo homer in the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 3, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves had just beaten the St. Louis Cardinals 10-7 in the 52nd game of the season. Despite the team scoring 10 runs, Jason Heyward contributed nothing offensively.

His batting average was at its season low, just .233. Despite his strong start, his production numbers were regressing to the train wreck that was the 2011 season.

In 2011, Jason finished the season with a .227 batting average, 14 home runs, 42 RBI and a dismal .708 OPS. Heyward appeared to overly embrace his sophomore slump.

With his offensive struggles continuing in the first third of this season, it seemed that the Braves organization and its fans were doomed to watch "The Sophomore Slump 2: Just as depressing as the first slump, but twice as frustrating."

But, unlike the entire 2011 season, Jason Heyward was able to turn this season around. His numbers have progressed to those he put up in his rookie campaign.  Entering the second half of the season, Heyward's average is sitting at a much healthier .272, with 14 home runs, 41 RBI and a much stronger .837 OPS.

Jason Heyward is poised to have a big second half. Not only will a big second half boost the youngster's confidence going into the rest of this season and his career, it will be a much-needed injection of offensive firepower in a Braves offense desperately looking for consistency.

In the 32 games Heyward has played in since that 10-7 victory over the Cardinals in May, he has raised his batting average 39 points, improved his slugging 84 points and increased his OPS by 98 points.

He has hit 8 of his 14 home runs in that 32-game span, while driving in 18 of his 41 RBI. The biggest reason for his resurgence is his improved rate of contact. In his first 50 games, Heyward was striking out at a much higher rate (one strikeout every 3.44 at-bats) than he has over the last 32 games (one strikeout every 5.08 at-bats).

As he continues to make more contact, he will continue to produce for the ball club.

With his regained confidence and improved contact rate, Jason Heyward and the Atlanta Braves are poised for a big second half.