Outfielder Austin Hays must stay healthy for the Baltimore Orioles in 2020.
Let’s start with the most obvious, shall we? It’s really hard not to be excited about Austin Hays heading into the 2020 season after watching the league’s worst pitching staff break home run record after home run record and watching a revolving door of options try and man center field, but it’s important to keep expectations in check.
There hasn’t been any confirmation that Hays is the man in center field for 2020, he’s played in just 41 games at the major league level since 2017, and injuries are a major concern for the 24-year-old out of Jacksonville University.
However, Hays slashed .309/.373/.574 with four home runs in 21 September games to close out 2019 and put on a thrilling show on defense which was worth the price of admission, even absurd ticket prices for major league games.
Hays posted a 146 wRC+ during his brief major league stint and his 0.9 fWAR was good for fourth among Baltimore Orioles hitters. Again, that was in 21 games! It feels as if Austin Hays has been around for a decade or more, but he’s still an exciting young prospect with a lot to prove.
Hays will be eligible for the 2020 ROY Award thanks to accumulating just 128 at-bats between 2017 and 2019. The cutoff is 130 at-bats. Kudos to Brandon Hyde and Orioles leadership for keeping an eye on that number so we as fans have this storyline to get excited about next year.
For what it’s worth, Steamer projections have Hays playing in 107 games with 19 home runs, a 93 wRC+, and 1.2 fWAR.