At What Point Does Hayes' Glove No Longer Outweigh His Bat?

Photo credit: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Remember to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for continued Pittsburgh Sports coverage: 

I became frustrated with some fellow Pirate fans over the offseason.  Every third base list that came out, touting the top third basemen in Major League Baseball, would leave off Ke'Bryan Hayes.  This would put a lot of Pirate fans into a frenzy about how disrespectful it was to leave Hayes off the list. 

These lists were coming from those that speak about baseball on a national level.  I felt that, at this point in his career, the national pundits were right to leave Hayes off of these lists.  You cannot be a great third baseman when you can't hit.  That was my argument.

I would often argue this with the caveat that Hayes was not quite there...yet. 

I did feel that this could be a breakout year at the plate for the Pirate third baseman, and his bat may finally live up to his glove, which is the best in the majors.  However, on a national level, Hayes is not there yet.  You don't make these list on defense alone.

Now, I'm worried Hayes may never appear on these lists.  There is only so much your glove can carry your career before people realize you may not be a major league hitter. In Hayes' first full season last year, he hit just 7 homeruns and had 41 RBI.  He also had an OPS of just .659.  These are bad numbers for any hitter, but especially a third baseman where most teams expect power to come from.  These are not elite level stats, or even mediocre ones.

Hayes has continued his struggles into this season.  In 41 plate appearances so far, he has just five hits.  His current slash line sits at a terrible .125/.146/.175 which amounts to an abysmal .321 OPS.  Hayes' elite defensive skills are not going to outweigh his struggles at the plate much longer.

Let me be clear, I want Hayes to succeed.  I am not a "hater" as so many like to label those who do not always speak positively.  I kept him in a fantasy league at a decently high investment because I truly believed he would break out this season.  Hayes is also the cornerstone of this Pirates rebuild since he is the one player the team chose to invest in long-term so far.  He is not living up to that contract one bit.

I was at the game last night.  Sitting with co-founder of Gold Lot Sports, Brian Torchia, he pointed out that it doesn't even particularly look like Hayes is swinging hard.  And I agree with Brian.  It looks like Hayes is just trying to put bat to ball, and the result of that contact is what it is.  And what it has been are weak grounders or pop ups just about all season long so far.

I know it's early.  I especially know it is early because the blog I wrote yesterday about Andrew McCutchen succeeding so far was met with comments telling me I was too early to be on Cutch's hype train.  So I know I will receive similar comments saying it's too early to count Hayes out.  

I'm not counting Hayes out.  But I'm worried.  I'm worried that the investment the Pirates made into this once promising star is looking like a bad one.  He needs to start producing at the plate.  And fellow Pirate fans need to stop complaining when Hayes doesn't find his way on these social media lists talking about the top third basemen in the league.  Because right now, Hayes isn't one of them.