One reason, and it’s incredibly simple, in a year when every player dealt with short sample size, his was shorter still. You can say he showed enough in that month to warrant winning but right or wrong that’s the reason.
In only 85 official at bats Hayes had 32 hits, five of which were homeruns and that translates to a .376 batting average. His OPS of 1.124 is scary good, and none of this talks to the astronomical difference he made in the field.
He certainly earned being in the conversation, and I thought for sure he’d end up in the finalists but instead it shook out like this, NL finalists: Alec Bohm (PHI), Jake Cronenworth (SD), Devin Williams (MIL), worthy candidates all, but still disappointing.
Here’s the bright shiny upside, Hayes will still be a rookie in 2021. He has to head into the season as one of the favorites to take the award but as a Pirates fan, I’m hoping he has some internal competition in the form of O’neil Cruz.
At the end of the day, none of this will really matter. Hayes won’t play differently next season based on being snubbed, if anything it actually gives him a better shot at it in 2021. Alec Bohm is hard to argue against after all and having someone win it twice would at least be really weird so whomever wins it in 2020 will almost surely be left out next year.
Part of me was hoping they’d avoid individual awards in 2020 for this very reason. For instance, let’s say Josh Bell had that monster month in 2020 rather than 2019, is he MVP? He could be, but that certainly doesn’t tell the story of his entire season does it. Oh, we’d celebrate it and we’d certainly feel like he earned it, but there’s something to be said for how a player fares through the rigors of an entire season. Same goes for a rookie, they come up and sometimes everything clicks. There is an overall feel that this guy is going to be an All-Star for seasons to come and then the league pushes back. I’m not predicting a downturn for Hayes, but .376 is a bit high to expect for anyone over the course of an entire campaign don’t you think?
If anything, I wish Hayes had not been one of the unlucky few Pirates to contract COVID-19 or he might very well have played a larger percentage of games and had a better argument.
All that said, 2021 could be very special for Ke’Bryan Hayes and here’s hoping its not even a discussion.