His potential to deal with his enterprise at third base was by no means unsure. Profitable three Gold Gloves within the minors supplied all of the proof required. But there have been nonetheless questions — at the very least externally — about how the Pittsburgh Pirates’ prime prospect would alter on the plate after middling numbers at finest throughout his rise via the staff’s farm system.
Hayes answered all of them throughout a blistering September, hitting .376 with 5 house runs, three triples and 17 doubles on his approach to a sixth-place end in NL Rookie of the Yr voting. His .682 slugging share was greater than 200 factors greater than his finest 12 months within the minors.
“I imply I really feel like I’ve all the time had the facility,” Hayes stated Tuesday. “I simply really feel like I wasn’t placing my physique in a constant place to hit the ball arduous. I really feel like I’ve all the time had stretches the place I’ll hit the ball actually arduous, however it will be for a recreation or two after which for the following two. three video games I wouldn’t.”
Not final fall. Hayes collected at the very least one hit in 20 of his 24 appearances and ended the season with an eight-game hitting streak, his play one of many few highlights because the Pirates completed with the worst report within the main leagues.
Hayes spent the offseason engaged on his kind, attempting to prepare for the changes from opponents he is aware of is coming to come back. He additionally finds himself as the perfect candidate to grow to be the de facto face of the franchise following the departures of Josh Bell and Jameson Taillon amongst others.
It’s a task Hayes understands has principally fallen into his lap. That doesn’t imply he’s going to spend so much of time worrying about it. He’s been low-key since his beginning becoming a member of his father — 13-year main league veteran and 1996 World Collection champion Charlie Hayes — on the diamond. He’s completely satisfied to be thought of a pacesetter. Simply don’t count on him to bear a character makeover to perform it.
“I believe he’ll in all probability play 15 years within the large leagues and by no means change,” second-year Pirates supervisor Derek Shelton stated. “That’s who he’s. He’s the identical individual daily, he was the identical individual daily when he got here to the park final 12 months, and count on that to form of go ahead.”
Nonetheless, Hayes admits he’s immediately gone from one of many younger guys to one of many extra established faces within the clubhouse in a 12 months. The Pirates are present process a prime to backside makeover. His spot at third base is without doubt one of the few locations on the roster the place there are not any long-term questions.
As tough because the short-term is likely to be, Hayes expressed confidence within the large image. Basic supervisor Ben Cherington is doing his finest to stockpile expertise within the minors. Hayes figures it’s his job to assist create the tradition within the clubhouse that may assist lead Pittsburgh again to respectability.
“As soon as we add guys and we’ve youthful guys within the system which might be actually good and as soon as we get all that collectively and the chemistry is nice I believe we’re going to be actually good,” Hayes stated.
Hayes would possibly already be there, although he’s prepared for the pitchers that he punched incessantly final 12 months to start out punching again. That’s the sport.
“There’s gonna be numerous ups, numerous downs however I’m wanting ahead to it,” Hayes stated. “I imply I solely performed like 3-4 groups so I’ll get to play a bunch of groups throughout the league, so I’m excited for that. And yeah, I really feel like I nonetheless have rather a lot to show.”
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