Baltimore Orioles: Austin Hays is solidifying his role

Austin Hays is quickly solidifying his place with the Baltimore Orioles.

In the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, the Baltimore Orioles decided to use their third-round pick to select Austin Hays. This early third-round pick went on to make history in 2017 when he was the first player on the Frederick Keys (Baltimore’s minor league affiliate out of the Carolina League) to smack three home runs in a single game.

Hays went on to play 128 games combined with the Bowie Baysox and the Frederick Keys, putting together a very solid season with a .329 batting average and .365 on base percentage, along with a spectacular .958 OPS. The Orioles didn’t waste any time and gave Hays the call as a September call-up in 2017.

Last season, however, was the first time Hays received a bulk amount of playing time (131 games) in the Majors after the shortened 2020 season and the injuries that limited him to just 54 games between 2019 and 2020.

Despite the short amount of time spent on the field with the Baltimore Orioles, Austin Hays took full advantage of the opportunity and put up some very solid numbers.

In only 209 plate appearances the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Austin had 55 hits,15 walks, 32 runs, 22 RBI, along with 8 doubles and 8 home runs. The two stats that stand out the most in my mind through those 54 games was the .345 on base percentage and just 38 strikeouts. He also hit into just one double play.

Last season, Hays expanded his role in Baltimore, finishing third on the team with 22 homers and tying for second with 71 RBI.

In 2022, I have Hays as one of my sleeper picks to finish in the top 25 of the American League MVP vote and to represent the Birds in the Midsummer Classic. Coming into Sunday’s game, Hays had a slash line of .287/.358/.816 with three home runs and 12 RBI.

Here is a fun future trivia question: Who was the first Baltimore Orioles player to hit a home run over the new left field wall at Camden Yards? The answer … Austin Hays