This is one in a series of stories breaking down members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster.
Ke’Bryan Hayes ended a dominant streak en route to winning the first Gold Glove of his career.
Prior to the 2023 season, Nolan Arenado had been in the league for 10 seasons and he won the National League Gold Glove at third base in each of those 10 seasons. For the first time since Arenado debuted, the award went elsewhere and it now resides in Pittsburgh.
Hayes’ first Gold Glove was a long time coming. Considered one of the best defenders in baseball, regardless of position, Hayes registered 21 defensive runs saved and made only six errors in 122 games at the hot corner.
Hayes, who turns 27 years old later this month, became the first third baseman in Pirates’ history to take home a Gold Glove, and it seems more likely than not that it won’t be the last of his career.
Even more inspiring than his consistently excellent defense, Hayes showed clear signs of progress at the plate this past season.
After a red-hot start to his career in a brief stint during the 2020 season, Hayes combined to hit just .249 with a lowly .671 OPS from 2021-22. In 232 games, Hayes slugged only 13 home runs and drove in 79 runs. There were major concerns as to whether Hayes would ever be a productive player at the plate.
Things changed for the right-handed hitting Hayes this past season, however. He finished the year having put together a .271/.309/.453 slash line. He set career-highs in home runs (15), RBIs (61), hits (134) and triples (seven).
Hayes started the season off slow, but caught fire starting with a two-hit performance on May 31 and carried his momentum through the end of the regular season. In his final 72 games, Hayes hit .308 with a .532 slugging-percentage, an .856 OPS and 13 home runs.
The Pirates are hoping that what Hayes showed for the majority of last season was no fluke and that next year, he will again be an impactful player on offense in addition to providing stellar defense.
Hayes will be in a Pirates’ uniform for the long haul. At the beginning of the 2022 season he signed an eight-year, $70M extension that will keep him around through at least the 2029 season. The Pirates also have a club option that they can pick up for 2030, if they so choose.
If Hayes is able to sustain his improved offense with his top-tier defense, that contract will be a major win for the Pittsburgh Pirates.