KE'BRYAN Kobe HAYES
Image of
Nickname:   N/A Position:   3B
Home: N/A Team:   PIRATES
Height: 5' 10" Bats:   R
Weight: 205 Throws:   R
DOB: 1/28/1997 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 13  
Birth City: Tomball, TX
Draft: Pirates #1 - 2015 - Out of high school (TX)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO OBP SLG AVG
2015 NYP WEST VIRGINIA   12 41 8 9 1 0 0 7 1 1 6 7 .320 .244 .220
2015 GCL GCL-Pirates   44 144 24 48 4 1 0 13 7 1 22 24 .434 .375 .333
2016 GCL GCL-Pirates   2 5 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .600 .400
2016 SAL WEST VIRGINIA   65 247 27 65 12 1 6 37 6 5 16 51 .319 .393 .263
2017 FSL BRADENTON   108 421 66 117 16 7 2 43 27 5 41 76 .345 .363 .278
2018 EL ALTOONA   117 437 64 128 31 7 7 47 12 5 57 84 .375 .444 .293
2019 NYP WEST VIRGINIA   3 9 1 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 2 2 .250 .222 .111
2019 IL INDIANAPOLIS   110 427 64 113 30 2 10 53 12 1 43 90 .336 .415 .265
2020 NL PIRATES $84.00 24 85 17 32 7 2 5 11 1 9 9 20 .442 .682 .376
2021 NL PIRATES   96 362 49 93 20 2 6 38 9 1 31 87 .316 .373 .257
2021 TAE INDIANAPOLIS   7 24 6 6 2 0 2 3 0 0 2 7 .308 .583 .250
2022 NL PIRATES   136 505 55 123 24 3 7 41 20 5 48 122 .314 .345 .244
2023 IL INDIANAPOLIS   3 9 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 2 .333 .111 .111
2023 NL PIRATES   124 494 65 134 31 7 15 61 10 6 28 104 .309 .453 .271
2024 NL PIRATES   21 79 11 22 6 0 0 8 0 0 13 15 .379 .354 .278
Today's Game Notes
  • April 19: Hayes has a hit in 58.8% of his games this season (10 of 17), with at least two hits in eight of them (47.1%).

    He has not yet gone yard this season in the 17 games he’s logged a plate appearance
    .

    In seven of 17 games this year (41
    .2%), Hayes has scored at least one run, including two games with multiple runs scored.

    In six of 17 games this year he has notched an RBI, and he has one game with multiple RBI
    .

    Hayes has gone down on strikes at least once 10 times this year in 17 tries (58
    .8%), including punching out on multiple occasions in 17.6% of games (three times).

Personal
  • Ke'Bryan is the youngest son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, who spent 14 seasons in The Show. That included a stint with the 1996 Pirates before they traded him to the Yankees and helped them win the World Series that fall. 

  • A daily commitment to swimming and mountain-bike riding helped Hayes slim down, though he will always have that thick, strong lower half.

  • In 2015, Hayes' senior year at Concordia Lutheran High School in Texas, he graduated with a commitment to the University of Tennessee.

  • In 2015, Hayes got drafted by the Pirates (see Transactions below). 

  • Scouting report: Ke'Bryan is a two-way player: third base/pitcher who displays superior talent with both the bat and glove. This talented two-way athlete projects well beyond his age and will continue to improve as he moves into his pro career.

  • Hayes keeps things prioritized: #1 - God, #2 - Family, #3 - Baseball . . . every day.

  • Ke'Bryan's work ethic is commendable and impressive.

  • In 2016, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Hayes as the 9th-best prospect in the Pirates' organization. He was at #6 in 2017. And in the offseason before 2018 spring training, they moved Ke'Bryan up to 4th-best Pirates' organization. And he was at #2 both in the spring of 2019, behind only RHP Mitch Keller, and again was #2 again in 2020, behind Keller, again.

    But Hayes moved into the #1 prospect with the Pirates, in the spring of 2021.

  • July 2018: Hayes represented the Pirates in the All-Star Futures game.

  • In 2018, Hayes was named the Pirates' Minor League Player of the Year.

  • 2019 Season: It was a bit of a surprise that Hayes did not earn a September call up in 2019, but with his production at the Triple-A level it was not completely shocking. In Triple-A, level Hayes slashed .265/.336/.415. He owned a 9.0% walk rate, .329 wOBA, .150 ISO, a 9.8% extra base hit rate, and a 92 wRC+. His 30 doubles, however, were great to see.

    Despite his offensive woes, Hayes continued to be a plus defender at third base. Hayes took home a minor league gold glove award for a second consecutive season, and would already be one of the best defensive third basemen in the Majors.

  • Jan 13, 2020: When Hayes was just a kid, 5 or 6 years old, his travel-ball team wore shirts designed like Superman’s suit. Their goal was always the same during each game of catch, he said: Throw the ball like you’re trying to hit your partner in the middle of the Superman logo. That was the beginning of Hayes’ development into a potentially elite defensive player.

    “It started at a super, super young age. I remember my first travel-ball team, just all the types of drills that they had us doing,” Hayes told MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. “A lot of that stuff, I still think about to this day. It’s just little stuff like that I took pride in every day.”

    Hayes is still just a kid in some ways, only five years removed from high school and a couple of weeks shy of his 23rd birthday. He was alongside fellow prospects Will Craig, Oneil Cruz and Blake Cederlind last week at the RCDP, an event designed to prepare up-and-coming prospects for life in the big leagues.

    “I’m just honored to be able to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates here,” Hayes said.

    But Hayes is saddled with high expectations—no surprise for a first-round draft pick, the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect. This year, he could face an entirely new challenge in the Major Leagues. He almost certainly won’t be at third base on Opening Day, as the Pirates can still lean on Colin Moran, backups like Erik González and José Osuna or a stop-gap acquisition.

    It doesn’t feel like Hayes is far away, though. Hayes spent all of last season with Triple-A Indianapolis, one call away from Pittsburgh. The Pirates added him to their 40-man roster on Nov. 20. Last year, he was in 2019 Major League Spring Training—with a locker between Josh Bell and Melky Cabrera—to get his feet wet and learn. Next month, he’ll report to Pirate City with a chance to prove himself.

    There aren’t many doubts about his glove. There shouldn’t be, anyway.

    But Hayes still has to show he can hit in the upper Minors, much less the Majors. He made progress in Double-A in 2018, batting .293 with an .819 OPS while striking out only 84 times in 117 games during his age-21 season. But this season was a step back. While offensive numbers soared around Triple-A, Hayes slashed .265/.336/.415 for Indianapolis.

    He finished strong enough, hitting .313 with an .806 OPS in his final 30 games, and chose to highlight the positive aspects of his inconsistent season at the plate.

    “I learned a lot this year, being in Triple-A. I got to struggle for a long time the first time ever, so that was great for me, I think,” Hayes said. “I got to really just sit there and try to figure things out. I know at the higher level, that’s going to happen a lot. I’m glad that it happened in the Minor Leagues. All in all, it was a great year for me, great experience.”

    This spring will present a clean slate for many people in Pirates camp. They’ll be evaluated by a new general manager, Ben Cherington. They’ll work with new coaches. And they’ll play for a new manager, Derek Shelton, who is already excited to see Hayes’ defensive wizardry in person.

    “I talked to Derek briefly," Hayes said. "He introduced himself and kind of talked about this upcoming year and said he couldn’t wait to see me play in Spring Training.” (A Berry - MLB.com - Jan 13, 2020)

    BIG MLB DEBUT

  • Sept. 1, 2020: Ke'Bryan had just finished working out at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona on August 30, 2020, when he left the ballpark to grab some Chipotle. About 20 minutes later, he got a call from Brian Esposito, the Triple-A Indianapolis manager who’s running the club’s alternate training site camp.

    Esposito told Hayes he would be reporting to PNC Park on August 31 so that he could get some at-bats against rehabbing pitcher Mitch Keller. “And then,” Esposito told Hayes, “you’re going to stay.”

    Hayes officially arrived in the Majors on September 1, and he sure looked ready to stay.  The Pirates put him in their starting lineup and watched him shine in every aspect of the game during their 8-7 loss to the Cubs in 11 innings at PNC Park. The 23-year-old went 2-for-5 with three runs scored, a game-tying homer and some attention-grabbing plays at third base.

    “That was unbelievable. It was outstanding,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He did things well in all three facets of the game.”

    In the sixth inning, Hayes collected his first Major League hit and RBI with a double off the wall against Jon Lester that kick-started a four-run rally. Hayes admitted he was nervous in his first two at-bats against Lester, whose debut came in 2006, when Hayes was 9 years old. But that hit, which flew off his bat at 108.5 mph, helped settle him down.

    After a one-hour and 11-minute rain delay, Hayes came to the plate in the eighth inning with the Pirates trailing by one run. He took two pitches from Cubs reliever Dan Winkler then unloaded on a cutter left over the plate, launching his first big league homer a Statcast-projected 410 feet to center field to tie the game.

    “Since Day 1, whenever I came to Pittsburgh, whenever I got signed,” Hayes said, “I’ve always dreamed about hitting a home run there.” 

    Standing at third base with the Pirates down a run and one out in the 10th, Hayes raced home on an Anthony Alford chopper tapped back to reliever Josh Osich. The lefty flipped the ball to catcher Willson Contreras, but Hayes deftly slid under the tag to score the tying run. Shelton called it “as good a contact read as you can make,” a pure display of Hayes’ baseball instincts.

    Hayes became the fourth Pirates player since 1901, and the first since Walter Mueller in 1922, to record two extra-base hits in his Major League debut. He was also the eighth player in the Majors since 1901 to debut with at least three runs scored and two extra-base hits; the last National League player to have a debut like his was Willie McCovey in 1959.

    The Pirates weren’t surprised to see Hayes thrive under the lights. They didn’t promote him to watch him sit on the bench. He’s going to play regularly over the final month of the season, Shelton said, although the coaching staff will monitor him after an unusual two months leading up to his highly anticipated callup.

    In 2020, Hayes was invited to the Pirates’ Summer Camp at PNC Park, but he was unable to participate after testing positive for COVID-19. They eased him back into action at their alternate training site over the month of August. Finally, the word came down that Hayes was getting called up.

    “Once he told me, I was ecstatic. I got chills in my body,” Hayes said. “I mean, it's what I worked for my whole life. And you can ask anyone back home, I put 100 percent effort into getting where I am today." 

    Hayes’ first call wasn’t to his father, longtime big leaguer Charlie Hayes. He broke the news to his mother, Gelinda. Hayes said his mother couldn’t believe it. And his father couldn’t stop himself from crying. Charlie probably had a similar reaction, Hayes said later, when his first home run landed.

    "Even when I was in the Minor Leagues and I hit a home run, my mom said he would cry,” Hayes said, smiling. “I thank him for everything.”  (Berry - mlb.com - 9/1/2020)

  • Hayes is also the seventh Pirate to homer in his debut, with teammate and friend Cole Tucker (2019) and Starling Marte (2012) the last two to go deep in their debuts.

  • 2020 Season: It’s a rare circumstance for a rookie to look like the best player on his team. But that’s exactly what happened in September after Hayes joined the Pirates.

    The 23-year-old Hayes was so dominant in 24 games that he led all Pirates hitters in average (.376), on-base percentage (.442), and slugging (.682) for the season. Hayes hit five home runs, seven doubles and two triples, while drawing nine walks against 20 strikeouts.

    Drafted 32nd overall in 2015 out of high school in Tomball, Texas, Hayes found offensive success after making adjustments at the plate this season. His stance went from closed to open, allowing him to stay on his back leg longer. He moved his hand position down and away from his shoulder, while also having a more upright position.

    The combination led to the best offensive results Hayes has displayed as a professional.

    “Hayes is a really intuitive player,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said. “He knows he makes a lot of contact and hits the ball hard. He also knew coming into spring training that getting the ball off the ground more likely helps him.”

    After his spring adjustment, Hayes went to work back at home with his father and started seeing results.

    “He’s made an adjustment in mindset and he talked about the benefit of being able to hit on a full field with his dad during quarantine, and the value of seeing the flight of the ball,” Cherington said.

    The Pirates finished with the worst record in the big leagues, but Hayes gives them a bright spot to build around. He’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, and if his offense comes anywhere close to numbers he showed in 2020, he could be a perennial all-star and building block. (Tim Williams - October 12, 2020)

  • In 2020, Hayes placed sixth for NL Rookie of the Year, finishing well behind winner Devin Williams.

    Hayes spent less than a month in the Majors and totaled only 85 at-bats in 24 games, so he will maintain his rookie status heading into 2021. (A Berry - MLB.com - Nov 9, 2020)

  • Dec 11, 2020: Third base is one of the most talented positions in the Majors these days. From Nolan Arenado to Matt Chapman to Anthony Rendon to Manny Machado to Alex Bregman and others, the hot corner is packed with potential MVP Award candidates. Now there’s a prospect who is poised to join that group.

    You might have missed Ke’Bryan Hayes’ 24-game Major League introduction in 2020, but it’s worth catching up on how spectacular it was. The 23-year-old is currently the Pirates’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, the No. 37 overall prospect and the No. 2 prospect at third base.  (S Langs - MLB.com - Dec 11, 2020)

  • June 4, 2021: Ke'Bryan hit his first homer since coming off the 60-day injured list, and one special person was there to capture it on camera.

    In the 9-2 win, Hayes hit a slider from Marlins starter Cody Poteet just shy of the bushes in center field to give the Pirates an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. As he rounded the bases, the AT&T SportsNet feed spotted his father, Charlie Hayes, smiling as he recorded the moment on his phone from the seats at PNC Park.

    And he gave it a little color commentary, appearing to say his famous phrase that has become a moniker for Ke’Bryan: “Young Hayes! Oh yeah!”

    It’s not the first homer Hayes has hit. It’s not even the first of the season, as he blasted one on Opening Day in Chicago. But it was the first time Charlie saw Ke’Bryan hit a homer in person in his son’s young yet eventful Major League career. Ke'Bryan said the last regular-season game Charlie was able to attend was in 2019, when the younger Hayes was at Triple-A.

    The night before Ke'Bryan lifted the homer, Charlie got to witness Hayes leg out a single, blast a triple off the Clemente Wall and make two incredible plays on defense to help the Pirates begin a seven-game homestand with a win. (J Crouse - MLB.com - June 4, 2021)

  • 2021 Season: The 24-year-old rookie battled a left wrist injury early in the season which hampered his ability to consistently swing the bat with ease, finishing the year batting .257 and an underperforming .689 OPS with 6 home runs and 38 RBI.

    Hayes put on a show defensively flashing the leather at the hot corner on a regular basis, but will need to improve offensively to become the All-Star-caliber third baseman the Pirates believe he can and will be.  (Austin Bechtold@AustinRBechtold - Oct 15, 2021)

  • Sept 20, 2022: Former Major Leaguer Charlie Hayes helped the Yankees in a big way in 1996. Besides delivering key hits in the postseason, Hayes caught the final out to help the Bronx Bombers win the ‘96 World Series over the Braves in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium.

    Almost 26 years later, before the Pirates played the Yankees, there was Hayes on the Yankee Stadium mound, throwing the first pitch to his son, Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes. This is not the first time Ke’Bryan caught his father’s first pitch. It also happened on Aug. 28 at Citizens Bank Park before the Pirates' game against the Phillies, with whom Charlie started becoming an everyday third baseman in the Majors in 1989.

    For Ke’Bryan, it marked the first time he'd entered Yankee Stadium. He never visited the old Yankee Stadium, because he wasn’t born by the time the Yankees went all the way in 1996. He also was busy playing baseball elsewhere whenever his father visited “The House That Ruth Built.”

    “My mom was pregnant with me during the [‘96 World Series]. I was born a couple of months later,” Ke’Bryan said. “It’s kind of full circle for us. This being my first time at Yankee Stadium, I can’t wait to be out there, see the field, the stands. It’s such a privilege to experience this.”

    Whenever Ke’Bryan is hanging out with his father in New York, fans still recognize Charlie and what he did for the Yankees on that pivotal day in 1996.

    “My father comes up here all the time. Even when he was just walking on the street, a lot of people recognized him 20-something years later,” Ke’Bryan Hayes said. “I definitely don’t take it for granted.” (B Ladson - MLB.com - Sept 20, 2022)

  •  2022 Season: He’s widely considered one of the best gloves in the league at the hot corner, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue, but he really needs to make some progress with his bat. After hitting .376 in limited opportunities in 2020, Hayes slipped to .257 in 2021 and down to .244 this past season. He also had just 7 homers and 41 RBI this past year, and you’d like to see a guy who is considered a franchise cornerstone raise those numbers considerably.

    He also gets nicked up fairly often and, of course, there was the infamous sunflower seeds incident, which was a bad look for the 25-year-old, raising questions about his maturity and leadership capabilities for a guy expected to help lead the charge back to respectability for the Bucs.  (Darren Yuvan@DarrenYuvan - Oct 16, 2022)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2015: The Pirates chose Hayes in the first round, out of Concordia Lutheran High School in Tomball, TX. And he signed for $1.8 million, via scout Tyler Stohr. 

  • April 7, 2022: Hayes and the Pirates agreed to an eight-year, $70 million deal with a club option for a ninth season. It's the biggest deal in Bucs history.
Batting
  • Hayes' offense has been improving the last few years and his power took a big leap in 2020. Hayes made adjustments to his swing mechanics by opening up his stance and changing his hand position. His biggest change was mental. He prioritized hard contact, as opposed to just making contact, and worked with his father during quarantine to get the ball in the air more often.

    The result was the most power than Hayes has had in his career without sacrificing his average or plate discipline. Hayes’ video-game September numbers will come down, but he is capable of hitting .300 with 15-20 homers a year with a high on-base percentage. Hayes is an above-average runner who adds value on the bases in addition to his bat and glove.

    Ke'Bryan has the potential to be an offensive cornerstone the Pirates build their lineup around. He won’t hit .450 on balls in play, as he did in a small 2020 sample, as pitchers adjust to him, but if he gets anywhere close he will be a perennial all-star third baseman. Hayes will be the Pirates’ Opening Day third baseman in 2021 and figures to keep that status as long as he remains in Pittsburgh. (Tim Williams - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)

  • Ke'Bryan found offensive success after making adjustments at the plate the Covid-shortened 2020 season. His stance went from closed to open, allowing him to stay on his back leg longer. He moved his hand position down and away from his shoulder, while also having a more upright position.

    The combination led to the best offensive results Hayes has displayed as a professional.

    “(Hayes) is a really intuitive player,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He knows he makes a lot of contact and hits the ball hard. He also knew coming into spring training that getting the ball off the ground more likely helps him.”

    Hayes is the son of former big league third baseman Charlie Hayes, who played for the Pirates in 1996. After his spring adjustment, the junior Hayes went to work back at home with his father and started seeing results.

    “He’s made an adjustment in mindset and he talked about the benefit of being able to hit on a full field with his dad during quarantine, and the value of seeing the flight of the ball,” Cherington said. (Tim Williams - Baseball America - Nov., 2020)

  • Ke'Bryan shows plus hitting ability with a smooth, quick swing, natural lift and a patient approach. He has improved his power the last two years after recovering from a cracked rib at the end of 2016, which led to significant weight loss in 2017. Hayes regained the weight and muscle, and added more in the process.

    His bat had been catching up to his glove, though that part of his game regressed for much of his 2019 season in Triple-A. He still has a solid overall approach, though his walk rate dipped last year, and there is more power for him to tap into. Hayes finished last season strong something he can use as he waits for the call to Pittsburgh to come. (Spring 2020)

  • Ke'Bryan has a 60 grade hit tool, and an average 50 grade for his power. (Spring, 2020)

  • Hayes has a short, compact swing with excellent plate discipline. Even through his home run figures are still modest—the seven he hit in 2018 were a career high—he’s getting more carry into the gaps. He finished with 45 extra-base hits in 2018, with 31 doubles nearly doubling his previous career high.

    Ke'Bryan is focused on remaining on his back side more often at the plate, allowing him to adjust to off-speed pitches easier. He said that he didn’t try to create anything with his swing—which already has some natural lift—but that the focus on the back side might have helped that more. The results led to better pull-side power, with all but one homer going to left field.

    “It was just getting stronger,” Hayes said. “I definitely think my swing, just learning how to stay on my back side more, and just my bat path naturally, I probably created a little more loft with my swing.”

    If he can maintain or further improve his power production, he will give the Pirates a chance to have an above-average regular. (Tim Williams - Baseball - March, 2019)

  • Ke'Bryan has a loose, easy, line-drive stroke, hitting to all fields with improving power. He has a strong body, especially his lower half. He has advanced skills for making contact. He stays inside the ball. But he needs to learn how to turn on the ball and add loft for power.

    He has future power potential that is only average. Right now, he lines shots to the middle of the field. When he learns to turn on a pitch, he may hit 15 or even 20 homers in a season.

    Hayes showed better feel for the strike zone, a compact swing and the ability to drive the ball to all fields in 2017. He hasn’t shown a lot of home run power, but he could develop power similar to that of his father, who hit 144 home runs. (Spring, 2018)

  • Ke'Bryan has natural hitting ability and feel for the barrel, spraying line drives from foul pole to foul pole.

    He also has feel for the strike zone and using his bat control to square up balls with a high rate of contact when he does take a swing. He rarely chases a ball out of the strike zone. He reads pitchers and pitches well.

    Now, he is  learning how to drive breaking balls and changeups. (Spring, 2017)

  • Scouts see Hayes as a future above-average regular lineup guy, because his bat, work ethic, and knowledge of the game are all above-average.

  • Sept 1, 2020: Hayes was in Pittsburgh and is expected to be added to the Pirates’ roster. General manager Ben Cherington acknowledged that the Pirates “expect to see Key soon in Pittsburgh.”

    Hayes, MLB Pipeline’s No. 45 overall prospect spent last season with Triple-A Indianapolis, slashing .265/.336/.415 with 10 homers and 53 RBIs in 110 games. It was a step back offensively, as he hit .293/.375/.444 in 117 games for Double-A Altoona the year before, but his defense never wavered.

    “I think it's important that we continue to get better at the Major League level, individually and as a team. And part of getting better, certainly, will be giving players opportunities—younger players, players who have a chance to be here for a long time.” Cherington said. “It's still a meritocracy. There's still got to be competition. You're not just handed playing time. You need to invest in that, so we'll see where that takes us.” (A Berry - MLB.com - Sep 1, 2020)

  • Sept 2020: Hayes was named NL Rookie of the Month.

    He made his Major League debut on Sept. 1 against the Cubs and promptly went 2-for-5 with a double and a home run. He never stopped hitting.

    The Pirates’ No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, and No. 37 overall, Hayes has been lauded for his glove at the hot corner since Pittsburgh drafted him 32nd overall in 2015. Hayes’ bat was more in question, but that is no longer the case after the 23-year-old recorded a .376/.442/.682 slash line, a 1.124 OPS, seven doubles, five homers and 11 RBIs in 24 games. The Pirates look forward to Hayes manning third base full-time in 2021.

  • Oct 2020: Best average exit velocity: Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates—92.8 mph. Promoted to the Major Leagues on Sept. 1, Hayes announced his arrival by hitting a double off the left-field wall and a home run to straightaway center in his debut and continued to rake over the final two months of the regular season to finish with a .376 average in 24 games. He recorded a 92.8 mph average exit velocity on the 65 balls he put in play, which placed him inside the top 20 among Major Leaguers who had at least 50 batted balls.

  • Top rookie Statcast performers of 2020.

    Hitters (min. 50 batted balls or 50 PA):

    Best hard-hit rate: Hayes—55.4 percent. Hayes also led this year’s freshman class in hard-hit rate. Specifically, 55.4 percent of Hayes’ 65 batted balls had an exit velocity of 95 mph-plus, the ninth-best mark among all Major Leaguers who had at least 50 batted balls during the regular season. Evan White batted .176 with a 41.6 percent strikeout rate, but had a 52.5-percent hard-hit rate, while Murphy (49.4) fell just shy of the 50-percent mark.

  • Dec 11, 2020: Hayes made the most of 95 plate appearances this past September 2020, hitting .376 with a 1.124 OPS and five homers. He amassed 1.8 WAR, per Baseball-Reference. That's the most among all rookies on the season, and WAR is a counting stat. The only qualified hitter with a higher batting average than Hayes in September was Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna (.394), who made a late run at the NL Triple Crown. Hayes ranked fifth among qualified hitters in slugging percentage and fourth in wRC+ for the month.

    Now, 95 plate appearances are not enough to crown Hayes an MVP-caliber player yet, but it’s worth examining what he did in looking ahead to 2021.

    He hit the ball hard . . . and often. The most eye-popping part of Hayes’ season, beyond the basic stats, was how much he crushed the ball. He had a 55.4% hard-hit rate. That means that more than half of his 65 batted balls had an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher.

    The MLB average was 37.6%, and only six players had at least 100 batted balls and a hard-hit rate at least as high as Hayes: Fernando Tatis Jr., Travis d’Arnaud, Ronald Acuña Jr., Corey Seager, Eloy Jiménez and Christian Yelich. But Hayes didn’t just hit the ball hard, he also did it without swinging and missing much. He had just an 18.1% whiff rate on swings, well below the MLB average of 26.8%—a mark that is particularly impressive given that this was Hayes’ introduction to MLB pitching. Only 19 batters took at least 300 swings and had a whiff rate lower than that.

    How rare is Hayes’ hard-hitting, low-whiffing combination? No qualified hitter in 2020 had a hard-hit rate that high coupled with a whiff rate that low. The lowest whiff rate for any qualified hitter with at least a 50% hard-hit rate was 19.5%, by Angels superstar Mike Trout, who is in the midst of a Hall of Fame-caliber career. Trout’s 55.1% hard-hit rate was also the highest by anyone on that list with a sub-20% whiff rate. The only other player who came close was the Braves' Freddie Freeman, who had a 54.2% hard-hit rate and 20.1% whiff rate on the way to being named NL MVP.

    Another way to look at Hayes' hitting the ball hard and not missing much: his rate of hard-hit balls per swing. His 21.1% rate was tied for ninth among players with at least 50 batted balls, just ahead of the Dodgers' Mookie Betts.

    Again, Hayes has only done this in a small sample at the MLB level. But hitting the ball hard while not swinging and missing much is a recipe for future success, as the MLB-wide batting average and slugging percentage on hard-hit balls were .510 and 1.064, respectively.

    Managing great expectations: The effects of that quality and quantity of contact are reflected in Hayes’ expected stats, which are based on launch angle and exit velocity, plus strikeouts. His .300 expected batted average and .497 expected slugging percentage weren’t in the otherworldly zone of his actual numbers (.376/.682), but they were more than respectable.

    Consider this: Only 11 hitters who qualified for the batting title in 2020 had an xBA that high. Those names included Ozuna, Freeman, José Abreu, Trea Turner, Machado, Bryce Harper, Seager, DJ LeMahieu, Dominic Smith, Juan Soto, and Jake Cronenworth.

    It is worth noting that these stats highlight the fact that Hayes was overperforming a bit, too. He had a 101-point difference between his actual weighted on-base average and expected mark, the largest such difference of any player with at least 50 plate appearances. Hayes also had a .450 batting average on balls in play, the highest of any player with at least 70 plate appearances.

    Both of those indicate that his actual stats involved an element of luck, which should be considered when setting expectations. But the fact that his expected stats were still good is encouraging. (S Langs - MLB.com - Dec 11, 2020)

    HOMER ON OPENING DAY

  • Ke'Bryan hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat on Opening Day 2021, making him just the second Pirates rookie to hit a home run on Opening Day, per Elias.  (mlb.com - 4/1/2021)

  • April 2021: With a near-freezing wind howling in from the outfield at Wrigley Field, Hayes stepped up to the plate in the first inning against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. The 24-year-old showed no nerves on his first Opening Day, turning on a 2-1 changeup for a two-run homer to set the tone for Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win over the Cubs with his dad, brother, niece, and girlfriend all in the stands.  (J Crouse - MLB.com - April 1, 2021)

Fielding
  • Ke'Bryan is the best defensive third baseman in the Pirates organization. He has smooth, soft hands and occasionally makes some excellent plays. He has impressive instincts for the game.

    Hayes’ calling card has long been his defense at third base. He has a chance to win multiple Gold Glove awards with smooth hands, quick reactions, good routes to the ball and plus arm strength. He’s an asset defensively for the Pirates whether they want a traditionally strong third baseman or if they want to get creative with defensive shifts. Hayes has the range to play shortstop in a pinch and is a great candidate to move around the field in different defensive alignments. (Tim Williams - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)

  • There's no doubt Hayes is ready to play the hot corner defensively at the highest level. He's consistently brought up in conversations about the best defensive prospects in the game at any position, and he's clearly the best third baseman in the Minors, one who will be a Gold Glove contender the minute he joins a big league roster. He has tremendous range, great footwork, plus hands and a plus arm to make him the complete package. 

    Hayes' 70 grade defense is his best tool. He has smooth hands, quick reaction times, good routes to the ball and a plus arm. And he is athletic enough to play shortstop in a pinch. (Tim Williams - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2020)

  • Hayes has excellent hands and a slow heartbeat at third base, which makes him one of the best gloves in the minors. He isn’t fazed by big swings or scorched grounders, and he has an excellent feel for how to read angles off the bat. He has a plus arm and makes steady, accurate throws with plenty of backspin carry across the diamond. 

    Hayes has a 55 grade arm. (Spring, 2019)

  • Ke'Bryan  has a strong arm and some teams wanted to draft him as a pitcher. He also has good instincts and hands at third base.

  • In 2018, Hayes was named the MLB Pipeline All-Defender third baseman. Ke'Bryan entered pro ball as a very talented defender, with great hands and a plus arm. The 2015 first-round pick got even better when he committed himself to conditioning, becoming more athletic and agile and adding plus range to his overall outstanding defensive toolset.

  • He is very agile, now. He has sure hands and a quick first step. He should be a defensive asset as a plus defender with a plus arm.

    Hayes faces zero questions about his ability to stick at third base. Evaluators around the league complimented his work by saying he was essentially a shortstop at third base with the plus arm needed to play the position. (Spring, 2019)

  • Hayes reads the ball off the bat as well as anybody, which allows him to convert everything from smoked liners to barehanded choppers into outs.

  • 2019 Season: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates No. 2/MLB No. 36

    Ke’Bryan was viewed as a plus defender when the Pirates took him in the first round of the 2015 draft, and he’s only gotten better since. The 22-year-old’s plus hands and plus arm continue to be his greatest assets, and he’s made major gains with his athleticism and range at the hot corner by improving his conditioning.

    The second leading vote-getter in MLB Pipeline’s executive poll, Hayes garnered his third straight MiLB Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2019 and made all but three plays in 104 Triple-A games (.989 fielding percentage). Overall, Hayes has committed just 17 errors while recording a .974 fielding percentage in 331 professional games.

  • In 2019, Hayes became only the second player to win a Rawlings Minor League Baseball Gold Glove three years in a row. (The other was Ramón Conde from 1959-1961.) Hayes led the Minors with a .989 fielding percentage, and he’s committed only 17 errors in 331 games over the last three seasons. In MLB Pipeline’s 2020 Pipeline Poll, the 22-year-old was voted the second-best defensive prospect in baseball.

    “He’s special. He’s got great hands, just a great feel for the game,” Pirates infielder Cole Tucker said last year. “The smooth plays, the crazy plays down the line, you expect that out of him.” (A Berry - MLB.com - Jan 13, 2020)

  • Jan. 13, 2020: Hayes was named to the MLB Pipeline’s 2020 All-Defense Team.

  • May 2020: Questions remain about the bat of Hayes, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s No. 2 prospect, but he hit well before Spring Training was suspended. There’s no doubt his glove is ready for The Show. Last year, the third baseman became only the second player to ever win a Rawlings Minor League Baseball Gold Glove three years in a row, and he led the Minors with a .989 fielding percentage.

    Over the last three seasons, he has committed only 17 errors in 331 games on defense. Entering this spring, talent evaluators considered him one of the best defenders at any position in the Minors and a future Gold Glove Award candidate in the Majors.  –Adam Berry

  • Dec 11, 2020: Even if Hayes’ bat takes a step back in 2021, his glove will still be there. Part of what has made him such a well-regarded prospect is his defense, which is currently graded at 65 on the scouting scale, according to MLB Pipeline. Hayes' most recent prospect profile frames him as a player with excellent defense, needing his bat to catch up to his glove, noting, “There's no doubt Hayes is ready to play the hot corner defensively at the highest level.”

    Hayes’ name frequently comes up among the best defensive prospects at any position, according to MLB Pipeline. Through the 2019 Minor League season, he was considered the best third baseman at any level.

    Per MLB Pipeline, Hayes "has tremendous range, great footwork, plus hands and a plus arm to make him the complete package,” and that showed up in a big way at the MLB level, at least in a small sample. In 198 1/3 innings at the hot corner, Hayes racked up three outs above average. Only three third basemen had more: Arenado, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Brian Anderson, each of whom played at least 350 innings at third in 2020.

    What did that sparkling defense look like? Everything from classic barehanded plays to an over-the-shoulder catch. In fact, Hayes’ defense was on display in his debut when he threw Kris Bryant out at home in a heads-up throw on a non-force play.

    Both Steamer and Depth Charts projections have Hayes as the team’s most productive position player next year by WAR, at 3.0 and 3.1, respectively. And those are in part based on past performance, which he doesn’t have much of a sample for yet. They also don’t factor in the compelling contact numbers noted above.  (S Langs - MLB.com - Dec 11, 2020)

  • 2023 Season: Hayes won his second Fielding Bible Award (previously won in 2021) to go along with Defensive Player of the Year honors.

    He led all third basemen with 21 Defensive Runs Saved. Hayes cut back on his mistakes in 2023. He finished with 13 Defensive Misplays & Errors, down from 25 in 2022. He was also the only third baseman to have at least 10 plays saved on balls hit to his right.

    GOLD GLOVER

  • In 2023, Hayes won the Gold Glove for the best defensive third baseman in the NL, becoming the first Pirates third baseman to do so. 

Running
  • Ke'Bryan is an average runner.

    But, like all parts of his game he is aggressive on the bases. And Hayes continually improved to the point that by the 2018 season he got a 55 grade from many scouts. (Before the 2017 season, Ke'Bryan dropped some baby fat and added muscle, including gains in his speed.)

    He runs the bases very intelligently.

  • Hayes' above-average speed helps him. And while he's not a burner, he's proven to be an effective base-stealer, with a good success rate. (Spring 2020)
  • But in 2023, he got caught-stealing 6 times in 16 attempts.
Career Injury Report
  • 2015: Hayes' first full season of pro ball was interrupted by a broken rib.

  • June 13-July 4, 2019: Triple-A Indianapolis placed Ke’Bryan on the seven-day injured list with a dislocated left index finger.

  • April 4-June 3, 2021:  Ke'Bryan was on the 60-day IL.  An MRI showed some inflammation in his left wrist.

  • Aug 29, 2021: In the sixth inning, Hayes was called out on strikes on a pitch that was just off the plate. He turned to home-plate umpire Chris Conroy in confusion, then trotted off to the dugout without showing much emotion.

    “I was frustrated after that at-bat,” Hayes said, “and I had my helmet, came in and banged it. By the time I went out on defense, [my hand] was kind of swollen and I had noticed a little dot there.”

    The dot was a blood blister between the index and middle finger on his right hand, and it was caused by the recoil of his helmet in the emotional moment. Hayes will avoid the injured list for the time being, as manager Derek Shelton said he’s day to day.

  • Sept. 29-Oct 5, 2021: Hayes was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sore left wrist.

    Oct 2021: Hayes wanted to try to play through the soreness, but the Pirates placed him on the IL to try to set him up to have a healthy offseason from the start. The third baseman said the Bucs identified a cyst in his left hand that was causing some recurring pain, and they will identify the path forward in the coming days. Hayes said he won’t swing a bat for two months.  

  • Aug 13-23, 2022: Hayes was on the IL with mid-back muscle strain.

  • Oct 5, 2022:  Following the Pirates’ penultimate game of the regular season, Hayes revealed that he has been dealing with a back issue for the entire year.

    “For the most part, I’ve just been trying to find ways to really just get on the field, stay on the field,” Hayes said after the Pirates’ 8-7 loss to the Cardinals. “It’s kind of been frustrating. Some days, I feel pretty terrible. I tried to do what I can to where I can be out on the field and things of that nature.”

    Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said that the team will be "very involved" with Hayes during the offseason.

  • June 28-July 6, 2023: Hayes was on the IL with low back inflammation. Hayes, who leads the Pirates in games played (74), missed the Pirates’ past two games before being placed on the injured list. Shelton said that Hayes will undergo treatment over the next couple days before resuming baseball activities.

  • July 7-Aug 1, 2023: Hayes landed back on the IL just one day after returning from a previous stint.