Rum Bunter 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates Staff Predictions: Noah
By Noah Wright
MVP and Rookie Of The Year: Ke’Bryan Hayes
Ke’Bryan Hayes has the potential to be a 5 WAR player in a full season, and I think he’ll show that potential this year. There are absolutely no questions about Hayes’ defensive ability. Hayes has a 70 future grade per FanGraphs with a current of 60. MLB Pipeline currently gives his fielding a 65 grade. He’s got a great arm too, with both FanGraphs and Pipeline having him at 60. He’s the only third base prospect with at least 60+ grades for his fielding and arm by FanGraphs.
Hayes can also run a bit. Through the last three years, Hayes has stolen 52 bases in 68 attempts. Right now, FanGraphs has his speed grade at 60, while MLB Pipeline places it at 55. This gives him an athletic ability not too many third basemen have.
Though he isn’t a typical big time corner bat, that doesn’t mean he won’t be unproductive at the plate. Now yes, last year Hayes had a 92 wRC+ and .329 wOBA. But Hayes also put the ball on the ground 46.4% of the time last season. Plus, he was much better in the second half of 2019, showing that he was improving at Triple-A.
Hayes has a 9.4% career minor league walk rate to go with a 16.8% strikeout rate. Pretty good numbers. The top prospect was doing great in Spring Training before it was shut down, collecting seven hits, including a double, and home run, while walking five times to go against four strikeouts.
Hayes’ 92 MPH exit velocity last season gives a lot of hope that as long as he isn’t hitting the ball on the ground, he’ll find plenty of hits, including a lot of doubles with his speed. I think you could expect a 2018 Ben Zobrist-like season when he hit .305/.378/.440 with a 117 wRC+ with defense that will give Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado a run for their money for the National League Third Base Gold Glove Award.