The Pittsburgh Pirates Miss Franchise Player Ke’Bryan Hayes | The Numbers Don’t Lie

The Pittsburgh Pirates Miss Franchise Player Ke’Bryan Hayes | The Numbers Don’t Lie

In a challenging season for the Pirates, the absence of their franchise third baseman has left a noticeable void since July 7. However, Ke’Bryan Hayes is starting his rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday, a step in the right direction for an impactful return.


Elite Defense 


The 26-year-old is highly touted as one of the best third basemen in the Majors, and even though he’s been out for nearly 20 days, Hayes is still tied for second (10) in the league in outs above-average and tied for third in defensive runs prevented (7) while being tied for third for highest success rate added (4%). 



In 2022, with just a little over a year in the Majors and at 25 years old, Hayes inked an eight-year deal that guarantees $70 million, which is the richest contract in franchise history. The total will rise to $76 million if the club picks up his option for 2030.


That same season, after winning three gold gloves in the Minors, Hayes lived up to the expectations set for him, at least defensively. In a year where he was edged out in the Gold Glove race by Nolan Arenado, Hayes topped fielders at all positions with 24 defensive runs saved and had an edge in Statcast’s outs above average rating with 18. 


Pirates Struggling Without Franchise Player


Since Hayes was placed on the 10-day injured list due to low back inflammation on July 7, his absence has been acutely felt by the team. The Pirates have gone 5-and-10 and currently rank sixth in errors committed and are 25th in fielding percentage out of 30 teams. Pittsburgh sits in last place in the National League Central. 


The positive for Pittsburgh is that this could be the last season for years to come where the city finds itself at the bottom of the league. 


Securing Hayes and Bryan Reynolds to eight-year deals was just the beginning, and with the front office proving that they’re willing to invest in the future of the organization, shortstop Oneil Cruz, who’s been sidelined a majority of this season with a broken left ankle after an awkward slide at home in early April, is due for a contract extension after signing for the league minimum ahead of the 2023 season.

Paired with veteran MLBbro Andrew McCutchen, who is eyeing another contract after signing a one-year deal in January 2023, and a young slew of talent, the Pirates were off to the races. 



On June 15, Pittsburgh was 34-33 and held a half-game lead in the division, an indication that with a fully healthy roster, the team could pose problems for the race to the postseason for the first time since 2015. Possibly even get a playoff win for the first time since 2013.