This is the one in a series of stories looking at members of the Pittsburgh Pirates 40-man roster:
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2022 season began with a splash and it wasn’t because of anything that happened on the field.
As the season was set to get underway, reports came out that the Bucs had agreed to a long-term extension with Ke’Bryan Hayes.
When the Pirates returned to PNC Park for their home opener, they officially announced an eight-year $70M extension with Hayes, setting the mark for the largest deal in team history.
Hayes rewarded the Pirates for their commitment by leading the club with a 4.3 bWAR, largely due to his impressive defense at the hot corner.
The 25-year-old led all major leaguers, regardless of position, with 24 defensive runs saved. He also led all third baseman with 19 outs above average.
Even with the eye-opening statistics, Hayes was unable to take home a Gold Glove award as Cardinals’ third baseman Nolan Arenado took home the honor for the 10th straight season.
At the plate, Hayes didn’t have as noteworthy season as he did in the field, but he did still do some good things.
Hayes swiped a career-high 20 bases, finishing tied for seventh in the National League in the category.
For the year as a whole, Hayes slashed .244/.314/.345 (88 wRC+) with 24 doubles, a career-best seven home runs and 41 RBIs.
Hayes admitted that he was battling a lingering back issue throughout much of the season, which could have been a contributing factor to the lackluster season at the plate.
Hayes has shown he is capable of performing well offensively. Just look at his initial call-up to the big leagues in 2020.
Though the sample was small, Hayes hit .376 with a 1.124 OPS and five home runs in 24 games.
If Hayes is able to improve his offense for the Pirates next season while sustaining his top-tier defense, he becomes a potential game-changer for the Pirates.
Hayes hits the ball hard and is in the upper-end of average exit velocity in the league. What he needs to improve upon is getting the ball off the ground.
Launch angle has been all the talk when it comes to offense the last handful of seasons. Sometimes, that talk may even be blown out of proportion but for Hayes, he could benefit from working on it.
The Pirates can keep Hayes in the black and gold through the 2030 season if the exercise his club option prior to that season.
Looking at the more immediate future, Hayes will look to fully get healthy and revamp his play with the bat to become a more complete player as the club looks to take a step forward in 2023.
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