Tall and reed-thin, with great speed and deceptive strength, Hayes was a natural outfielder but spent much of his playing time at first base. The Indians touted him as their best prospect in a decade, and he made his big-league debut in 1981 after only one season in the minors. Hayes’ first full major-league season, 1982, produced a .250 average, 14 homers, 82 RBI, and 32 stolen bases. The Phillies were sufficiently impressed to send five players, including Julio Franco, to Cleveland in exchange for the young outfielder.
Hayes never lived up to the “five-for-one” expectations he faced in 1983, but in 1984 he hit .292 with 16 homers and 46 stolen bases, and on June 11, 1985 he homered twice in the first inning against the Mets, a major-league first. Faced with a surplus of outfielders, the Phillies switched Hayes to first base in 1986, and he hit .305 with 19 homers, 98 RBI, and 24 steals, leading the NL in doubles and tying for the lead in runs scored.
Hayes made the All-Star team in 1989, slugging a career-high 26 home runs and ranking second in the NL with 101 walks. But another solid season in 1990 was his last as a Phillies regular. Philadelphia GM Lee Thomas had tried to trade him that winter, and a disheartened Hayes slumped early in the season. After a June trade to Cincinnati fell through, a Tom Browning fastball fractured Hayes’ wrist. He ended the season having appeared in just 77 games.
Hayes was finally shipped to California after the season for Ruben Amaro and Kyle Abbott, a trade he accepted because the Phillies were planning on platooning him with Dale Murphy. He wrapped up his career by hitting just .225 for the Angels in 1992.