Tuesday, July 15, 2014

#420 Von Hayes

Card thoughts: This would be the last season for awhile that Hayes would be a full time outfielder. He would move to first in 1986. Also, Von Hayes, seems like a last name in search of a first name. “Von”, or “Van” were often appended to famility names in Germanic speaking countries (much like “De” or “Di” in Romantic speaking countries) to denote aristocratic origins.

The player: I always thought that Von Hayes was going to be a superstar. But other than the 1986 season, he never seemed to translate his awesome hitting skills into consistent results. I was probably blinded by wishful thinking: On my favorite cards was his rookie card and I hoped it would go up in value.

Hayes was one of the few, good young hitters the Indians got rid of in the 80s . . . but the Indians got five players in exchange (conversely, Hayes was one of the few, good young hitters the Phillies acquired instead off shipping off to the Cubs).

After coming in 7th in the Rookie of the Year balloting in 1982, Hayes was considered one of the best young hitters in the game. He could hit with some power, take a walk, and steal a base. He had yet to be able to do that consistently, however, as his OPS was just average. The Phillies coveted him, however, and were willing to give up five major leaguers, including useful veteran Manny Trillo, future starting right fielder George Vukovich, catcher #273 Jerry Willard, and future star #391 Julio Franco.

At first, the trade looked like a bust. Phillies fans, appalled by the cost of the Hayes trade and turned off by his aloof demeanor, never really liked him. Expecting a superstar, they cringed as he drove in just 32 runs in 124 games in 1983. He bounced back in ’84 and ’85, where his production was solid, but not spectacular. 1985 did see Hayes hit a remarkable two home runs the first inning (including a grand slam) in a 26-7 slaughter of the Mets.

He really shone, however, in 1986, when the promise seemed to finally be fulfilled. Moved into the middle of the lineup, Hayes reached career highs in runs (107-led the league); hits (186); doubles (46-also led the league); RBIs (98); and batting average (.305). Despite being top ten in the MVP vote, Hayes didn’t make the all-star team. Perhaps his shoddy defense at first was the answer.

Hayes would finally make the all-star team in 1989, after having a year that modern sabermetricians salivate over (5.1 WAR, 15% walk rate, 28 steals with a 80% success rate, an OPS+ of 140). Another good season would follow, but in 1991, Tom Browning broke his arm with a pitch, causing to miss much of the season (and hit a career low .225).

After a trade to the Angels, Hayes couldn't return to form. The broken arm was still troubling him (he hit another .225), thus leading to conclusion that the broken bone took about 40 points off his career average.

After retiring, Hayes managed in the Diamondbacks and A’s organizations (he led three straight teams to first place finishes). His last gigs were with Independent League teams.

He’s also inspired the name of a decent indie rock band, who appear to play mid 90s east coast style indie rock (here’s the story of the choosing of the name – no word if they ever met Von Hayes).

Card thoughts: I linked to Hayes rookie card earlier in the post. It was a "Rookie Stars" card: Chris Bando, was the much younger brother of Sal Bando. He has a card in this set, where his career will be explored in greater depth. Pitcher Tom Brennan was hardly a prospect, as he was 28 before he made it to the majors. Maybe Topps took pity on him because he had been drafted in the first round in 1974.

Larry Bowa hit a lot of triples, mostly of the hustle varierty. In fact, he reached double digits in triples three times. Here's his 1972 card.

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