A Player from Each NL Central Team That Will Give the Cubs a Problem

Chicago Cubs v Cincinnati Reds
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Ke'Bryan Hayes
Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Ke'Bryan Hayes - 3B - Pittsburgh Pirates

The easy answer here would be Bryan Reynolds, and you can definitely make an argument to put him here instead of Ke'Bryan Hayes. However, with the trade request from Reynolds and the uncertainty of his future in Pittsburgh, Hayes will be the man to look out for in 2023 when the Cubs play the Pirates.

Hayes played fairly well against the Cubs in 2022. On the season, though, the former first-round draft pick was just average. Through 136 games, he hit .244 while only hitting 7 home runs and driving in 41. However, in 14 games against the Cubs, Hayes hit .320 and scored 8 runs. Even though he only hit 1 homerun in those 14 games, 7 of his 16 hits were for extra bases and he was an on-base machine (.393 OBP). For some people, power is not everything and Hayes found other ways to dismantle Cubs' pitchers.

The Cubs finished the 2022 season with a 10-9 record against the Pirates. Ke'Bryan Hayes only played in 14 of those 19 games. In the five games that Hayes was absent, the Pirates were just 1-4. The Pirates were not very good last year, but they were much worse without Ke'Bryan Hayes. In 26 games without him, the Pirates were an abysmal 5-21. If Hayes can stay healthy, the Cubs are going to need to find a way to contain him if they want to have another winning season versus the Pirates.