Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes recently was announced as a finalist for the third base National League Gold Glove, and he deserves it more than the other finalists
The Pittsburgh Pirates received one Gold Glove finalist, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. Hayes put on a defensive clinic at the hot corner this year and is rightfully a finalist for the award. But while there is some stiff competition, Hayes absolutely deserves to win the award.
Hayes racked up +24 defensive runs saved, the most by any Major League Baseball player in 2022. Brendan Rogers of the Colorado Rockies was the second-best defender in terms of DRS with +22. Hayes’ biggest competitor and division rival, Nolan Arenado, had just +19 defensive runs saved, making Hayes far and away the best defender in the league, per DRS.
Outs above average are one of the newest defensive metrics, considering pretty much everything you can think of. How far a player had to go to make a play, how hard the ball was hit, and even how fast the player running was is all factored into OAA using Statcast metrics. Outs above average pinned Hayes with +18, the third-best in the league, only surpassed by Jonathan Schoop of the Detroit Tigers (+27) and Dansby Swanson of the Atlanta Braves (+20).
Hayes outdoes Arenado by a fair margin. While Hayes has +18 OAA, Arenado has just +15 OAA. In terms of defensive WAR, Hayes yet again surpasses Arenado by a decent bit. Hayes had a +3 dWAR, while Arenado clocked in at +2.3. The only more advanced metric that favors Arenado is UZR/150, with Arenado sitting at +11.8 and Hayes at +7.2. While UZR is far from the best defensive metric, even if it is more telling than the archaic fielding percentage and error counts, it still lags far behind OAA, DRS, and dWAR.
Even if you want to go with the ancient fielding percentage metric, Hayes’ .972 mark still led all National League third basemen and was the fourth-best in the league. Arenado wasn’t even top five in fielding percentage at #7 with a .968 mark (though that’s probably more telling of the accuracy of the fielding percentage than Arenado’s actual ability).
There’s very little to suggest that Arenado deserves the award more than Hayes. The only semi-accurate metric worth mentioning to support Arenado’s case is UZR/150. Even then, it’s not as if Hayes is poor in that stat, either.
What’s even more impressive is that he has a significant lead over Arenado in cumulative defensive stats like outs above average and defensive runs saved, yet he has 16 fewer innings played in the field. If Arenado wins the award, it’s purely big-market bias, as Hayes is the better defender. He might not be better by a landslide, but he is better enough to deserve the award over Arenado.