Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Ke’Bryan Hayes is in his first full season. After putting up impressive numbers during the 2020 season, Hayes was determined to come back in 2021 ready to make an impact.
During the 2020 season he appeared in 24 games and hit .376 with five home runs and 11 RBI. His bat was lit and the energy he infused into the Pirates faithful was reminiscent of when Andrew McCutchen helped take Pittsburgh from the losingest franchise in North American sports to World Series contenders.
Hayes, the son of former MLB player and World Series champion Charlie Hayes, put the baseball world on notice and his glove garnered praise similar to that given to such webmasters as Manny Machado, Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.
Those are some numbers that will catch people’s attention and it certainly caught the Pirates’ attention. In fact, Hayes is the only reason most people outside of the state of Pennsylvania even watch Pirates games.
This season, our MLBbro has seen a lot more action and he has put together solid numbers. The Texas native dealt with injuries at the beginning of the season and now he’s trying to finish on a strong note. He’s batting .248 with five home runs and 27 RBI through 69 games.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) August 22, 2021
Hayes recently went on a six-game hitting streak this month. During that span he recorded eight hits and had a .363 batting average. Such offensive explosiveness is the reason why the Pirates selected him in the first round of the 2015 MLB draft. They saw the potential in him six years ago and now it’s all starting to show.
When you look at the future of the Pirates, you have to envision Hayes as a leader of the pack because he has the physical tools and natural leadership qualities. And he’s just scratching the surface of his peak as a player.
Now he has struggled a little bit this season due to a wrist injury and some other issues, but he’s also shown strong signs of being a franchise player. The Pirates are looking to find their identity and having a young, exciting player like Hayes on the team certainly helps.
When the team traded it’s top infielder Adam Frazier, Hayes was not a happy camper because Hayes always received some positive words from his former teammate.
“He came to where I was sitting at on the plane and talked, and he just told me to keep working hard, keep going, keep your head level and keep fighting every day, because I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Hayes told the Post-Gazette. “He was talking to me about that, he was telling me just be aggressive at the plate and have positive thoughts and keep working.”
“Losing Frazier kind of sucks,” Hayes added. “Him and [center fielder Bryan Reynolds], they’ve been our best hitters this year. You’ve just got to look at the bigger picture with what they’re trying to do in the next few years, once we’ve gotten the guys down in the lower levels up and as guys like me — this is my first full year — being able to get some experience. That way whenever I’m in a position like Fraz to help kind of lead the team for the younger guys that are coming in, like how I came in last year.”
Hayes is 24-years-old and he already believes that the Pirates will be in a good position down the line.
“I feel like we’re going to get there, because we have a ton of talent, the trades that we’ve had already, bringing in some pretty good young prospects,” he said. “So I think it’s just taking it day by day and just building that chemistry with everyone to get to that end goal.”
When McCutchen first came to Pittsburgh, the francise was a bottom feeder. Instead of leaving, he stayed the course, signed a six-year, $51 million extension, won an MVP and before the franchise dumped him at age 30 (following a 28-homer season), he led them back to the playoffs for the first time since Barry Bonds roamed the outfield.
“It used to be that people didn’t want to get traded to the Pirates and people didn’t want to come here unless they were trying to redeem their careers,” McCutchen told S.I.com back in 2013. “Now we’ve got guys who come here and want to be here. They see what we have and they want to be a part of it.”
Hayes has the same optimism oozing from his persona. Hayes is becoming the face of the Pirates and the key the franchise;s future.