Ke'Bryan Hayes has been named a Gold Glove Award finalist after another tremendous season at the hot corner for the Pittsburgh Pirates
The list of nominees for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award has been released, and while there are some surprises like Eddie Rosario getting the nomination while Nolan Arenado missed out for the first time in his career, the inclusion of Ke’Bryan Hayes was certainly not a shock.
Hayes was also nominated in 2022 but lost out to Arenado which left a bitter taste in the mouth of many in Pittsburgh. Simply going off of the 2022 numbers, Hayes outperformed Arenado in several major categories such as Runs Prevented (Hayes 13, Arenado 11) and Outs Above Average (Hayes 18, Arenado 15). And while missing out on the award in 2022 was a disappointment for Hayes, 2023 will hopefully be a different story.
Hayes led the senior circuit in several major categories including fielding percentage with a .984. This is compared to McMahon with .969 and Riley at .972. He also led the league at third base with Total Runs Saved at 21 (McMahon 17 and Riley 9) and Outs Above Average at 17 (McMahon 11 and Riley 0). His Outs Above Average is even more impressive when looking at his movement split. Of his 17, 5 were to his right, 6 when going to his left, and 5 when he was in. Compare that to Riley who had 4 to his right but -3 when going to his left. The numbers show that Hayes is comfortable going for the ball no matter where it takes him – a sign of a fielder who has complete control of his position.
Defense wins championships, but it often will not get you noticed. There is always controversy with the Gold Gloves being more of the Gold Bat and Gloves award – most players won’t win without their bat being above league average. Hayes did what he needed to with his, improving his average from .244 in 2022 to finish with a respectable .271 in 2023, and that compared to the league average .248. He also had 15 home runs (up from 7 in 2022) and 61 RBI. In fact, 2023 saw Hayes improve to career highs in hits, runs, doubles, triples, slugging and on-base percentage.
He put up solid hitting numbers, so does he deserve an award specifically for his defense?
In all honestly, it is what probably cost him the award in 2022. As mentioned, Hayes had a .244 batting average in 2022, compared to Arenado with .293. While the advance numbers might show that Hayes had a better year than Arenado in the field, it was in the batter’s box that Arenado won it. Now that Hayes put in a strong season at the plate, it should not be the hindrance that it was in the past.
There was also the old school method of just watching him play. For lack of a better field, Ke’Bryan looked like a gold glover this year. He is one of those players that pitchers dream about because when the ball is hit to him, they can breathe and experience a sense of calm. They know he is going to make the routine ball, and they half expect him to make the impossible ones.
With Arenado out of contention this year, maybe the voters are looking for a new owner of the National League Gold Glove at third. And with his history, it would not be out of the question to see Ke’Bryan holding onto it for many years to come.