Outfielder Austin Hays
Austin Hays had a great start to the season and it looked like he was playing himself into an outfield spot for the foreseeable future in Baltimore. However, recent struggles and the emergence of already highly touted prospects like Kyle Stowers and Colton Cowser have made his future somewhat questionable.
Overall, Hays has hit .252/.308/.425 with a 107 OPS+ in 478 plate appearances with 15 home runs and 54 runs batted in. The clear highlight of his season happened in June when he hit for the cycle in a 6-inning 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals. After the cycle concluded, Hays had a .829 OPS and many believed he had the opportunity to represent the Orioles in the All-Star Game. However, he has struggled mightily since then and has not been a productive player for an O’s team that needs as much offense as they can get down the home stretch.
He had a .566 OPS in July and was not much better at .638 in August. With Henderson and Stowers in Baltimore, it is possible that Hays sees his playing time decrease against right-handed pitchers. Tonight, he is not in the starting lineup with Terrin Vavra taking over in left field and Aguilar starting at DH.
Arm strength has been a strength for Hays (no pun intended). He has had seven outfield assists this year but other defensive metrics have suggested that he has not been a valuable defensive player. Throughout the minors, he has dealt with various injuries and that has continued into the majors as he injured his hand earlier this year. With Cowser and Heston Kjerstad knocking on the door and Stowers improving, Hays will have a lot of pressure on him to improve his offensive metrics over this past month and over the first few months of next season if he wants to stay on the O’s long term.