Last year, the Atlanta Braves' Jason Heyward memorably began his season -- and his career -- with a home run. On Thursday, he did it again in Washington against the Nationals, smacking a solo homer to right.
The temptation, of course, is to project that Heyward will hit a home run in every plate appearance this season, breaking the single-season record by approximately 600 and approaching Barry Bonds' career home run record. A look back at last year, though, suggests that this isn't likely. Take a look at this chart:
After his first at-bat, Heyward managed to slug only .448 over the rest of the season. It was a pretty dramatic decline statistically. Perhaps the national spotlight took its toll, or perhaps his body simply wore down over the final 599/600ths of the season, which, as most ballplayers will tell you, always seems like the longest part.
His home run rate fell off a cliff as well:
Numbers don't lie: down the home stretch, Heyward managed a home run in only 2.7% of his remaining plate appearances in 2010. We'll see whether he can keep up the pace this year and prove he belongs at the major league level.
UPDATE: Heyward struck out in his second at-bat. Hopefully for Heyward, he will hit home runs and not strike out anymore.