Photos by John King and Scobel Wiggins –

Major League Ultimate announced today that Raphy Hayes has been named the 2016 Breakout Player of the Year.

The Breakout Player of the Year award goes to the player who made the biggest improvement from last season to this season, including their role in helping their team achieve its season goals. Raphy Hayes of the Portland Stags earns the award this year in his fourth season with the team.

Hayes has always been a standout player for the Stags, earning him numerous spots on highlight reels and spotlights in other media outlets. This season Hayes brought his game up to another level, finishing the season with 18 goals, 23 assists and 14 blocks. His 41 points on the season ranks him as the 4th overall point scorer in the league this season.

Hayes improvement this season has seen him become a pivotal player in the Stags offense. In 2016, Hayes’ performance has established him as a team leader across the broad, as he is second in scoring, third in goals, second in assists and third in blocks for the Stags. No other player on the Stags appears in as many statistical leader categories as Hayes does and easily made him an early candidate for the Western Conference MVP. Standout performances this season include a Week 2 game against the Seattle Rainmakers where Hayes racked up 1 goal, 7 assists and 3 blocks.

Hayes has been impressive in the past, with a 2015 season that included 13 goals, 5 assists and 9 blocks, but he has truly stepped it up this season. Early in his career, Hayes primarily played as a defensive player, but was moved to the offense in 2015. This season Hayes was able to show not only his offensive prowess as a downfield cutter but also as a handler, putting in more assists this season than his past three combined. With a jump in points played it is clear he is becoming a leader on the team and a player the Stags rely on with confidence.

Hayes on field presence is hard to miss and he was a significant factor in leading the Stags to their first trip to the MLU Championship. The 23 year old has found his role on the team and looks to be a team leader for years to come.

Final Ballot:

  1. Raphy Hayes (PDX)
  2. Himalaya Mehta (PHL)
  3. Brad Houser (SEA)
  4. Lloyd Blake (DC)
  5. Taylor Cascino (SF) & Erik Hunter (VAN) 

Others receiving votes: Adrian Banerji (BOS), Marques Brownlee (NY), Thomas Edmonds (BOS), Nick Fiske (SF), Taylor Nadon (VAN), Scott Xu (NY), James Yeager (SF).