In his first full MLB season Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes is making a golden case to take home some offseason hardware
Entering the 2021 season Pirate third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes was the odds on favorites to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. While his season has not gone the way Hayes or the Pittsburgh Pirates had planned, he still is making a case to take home some hardware this offseason.
Hayes has only hit for a .245/.317/.371 slash line this season to go with a 89 wRC+, 9.4% walk rate and a 23.0% strikeout rate. While his offensive struggles will keep him from being in the discussion for NL Rookie of the Year he still has a strong case to be made for winning the NL Gold Glove Award at third base.
Coming through the minor leagues the biggest calling card for Hayes was his defense. Through his first 101 MLB games his defense has shined through and he has already solidified himself as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game.
Throughout the season Hayes has passed the eye test at third base. He has made one outstanding play after another, including a play that saw him throw out Cardinal catcher Yadier Molina on one of the best plays you will ever see a third baseman make.
The stats back up what the eye test has said for Hayes. His +13 Defensive Runs Saved ranks 7th among all MLB defenders and is the best among all MLB third basemen. His 6.1 defensive WAR ranks 4th among MLB third basemen and second in the NL behind just Nolan Arenado.
Outs Above Average also rank Hayes among the best defensive third basemen in baseball. Hayes owns an OAA this season of +7 which is good for the 16th best in all of baseball. Among third basemen, Hayes leads the NL in OAA and is second among all MLB third basemen in OAA sitting behind only Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s.
When a player leads the Majors in DRS at their position and his second in OAA, while leading their league in OAA, the gold Glove Award should be a slam dunk. Throughout the entirety of his rookie campaign Hayes has made a golden case for some offseason hardware.
The odds of Hayes winning the Gold Glove Award are likely low. Both due to him struggling offensively this season and due to the award being a popularity contest at times, which will likely give it to Arenado even though Hayes deserves it more.
Some of the offensive struggles of Hayes could likely be explained by his hand injury as well. In the second game the Pittsburgh Pirates played this season Hayes exited the game with a hand injury that cost him over two months of games. It’s a real possibility that this injury has continued to linger and bother him throughout the season, contributing to his offensive struggles.
Even if Hayes does not take home the gold this offseason he more than deserves. Yes, Arenado has had the NL Gold Glove Award for third basemen on a stranglehold since 2013, Hayes has done more than enough to have earned the award and end Arenado’s stranglehold.