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Ke’Bryan Hayes ending the season red hot

The Pirates’ star third baseman is putting the team and the league on notice as he is having the best offensive season of his career.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Pittsburgh Pirates
Ke’Bryan Hayes is coming into his own as a threat at the plate.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I remember exactly where I was when I heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to sign Ke’Bryan Hayes to a long-term deal. I was just getting settled in at my first duty station in Las Vegas, and driving back to the dormitory, I saw the news come across my phone that he had signed an eight-year $70-million extension. I was happy that the team was finally going to commit to a superstar like him, but there was also two narratives that were created following the news; can he stay healthy, and can he develop offensively?

While I don’t claim to have a crystal ball in front of me, it does seem that Hayes is starting to turn a corner offensively and may be close to making that next jump as a batter.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first, because Ke’Bryan Hayes is an elite defender at third base, and I do believe there will be several Golden Gloves awarded to him in his career. Since his entry into the league, there have been few as dominant and consistent as him at the position. With that being said, when you get paid superstar money, they expect you to play as such, and his offensive woes at times have been eye raising for fans.

Just doing an eye test and watching games and highlights, it seems like Hayes is finally settling into his role and is opening up more at the plate, especially since his most recent visit to the injured list. In his last seven games alone, Hayes is hitting near .400 with 3 home runs, 13 hits, 7 RBIs, and a slugging percentage hovering around .700.

He had four hits against Kansas City, one walk, one run and one RBI the other night. In last night’s win over the same Royals, he went yard in the eighth to springboard the Pirates to victory.

A little late in the season? Yes, but there are some nights where the only production is coming by way of Hayes and the long ball. This could be a positive preview into what a healthy Hayes could look like next year at the plate. This season has Hayes hitting for a .269 average, 104 hits, 11 home runs (career high) and 52 RBIs (also a career high). I’m not going to act like these are elite numbers by any means, but it does show growth, even with the injury problems.

I made a similar comment in my last article about Bryan Reynolds, regarding the issues he was having offensively in relation to lingering back injuries, and that’s that back injuries don’t just go away. There have been plenty of professional athletes whose careers were altered from back procedures and injuries i.e Larry Bird, Daniel Cormier, Tiger Woods, Clayton Kershaw, etc. Hayes has always struggled with back problems, and that certainly affects how he performs on the field and at the plate.

I’m optimistic that Ke’Bryan Hayes is making the turn that will see him as a consistent factor offensively, and playing like the superstar he’s being paid to play like, but a lot of it will depend on how he adjusts and continues to rehab a pestering back injury.