The Royals’ fastest player may have just gained a step on American League infielders.
According to the Kansas City Royal’s website, speedster Jarrod Dyson, the owner of the “That’s what speed do,” tagline last year, is taking a new approach this season to capitalize on his top tool. Much like the famous character Wesley Snipes played in Major League, “Willie Mays Hayes” had an issue with putting the ball in the air, effectively reducing his chance to reach base and cause havoc to opponents’ catchers.
Normally a reserve outfield, Dyson saw an increase in action last season while Lorenzo Cain had a bought with injuries. In his time, Dyson swiped 30 bases in 35 attempts. However, he only carried a .260 batting average through 330 plate-appearances, tacking on 30 total walks, for a .328 on base-percentage.
Cue the swing and plate-approach tune up; Dyson now steps into the box with a refined approach to keep the ball out of the air. Well, not completely out of the air. Dyson is now focusing on attacking pitches he can rope into the gaps for extra bases, or adding pressure on infielders by beating out ground balls.
Dyson attributes the change in his swing to pulling his hands closer to the body, which helps to keep a hitter from casting, or creating a loop, with the bat head. In turn, this allows Dyson to have a more direct route to the ball, without needing to dip his shoulders and upper body to speed up his swing in order to be on time to a fastball, or off balance for off speed pitches.
You also may note a change in his approach landing when screaming into second base. Ordinarily, we see Dyson fly into second head first, often time, overshooting the base and barely clinging to safety by the tip of his spikes, or near misses of the baseball flying past his earflap after a tough hop. This change in part, was just precaution of safety, to keep Dyson on the base paths and not the disabled list.
If all of Dyson’s changes work, the reserve outfielder could be catalyst for chaos on the base paths at an alarming rate, which according to manager Ned Yost, is what fans pay good money to come to the ballpark and watch. Who knows, if Dyson is able to contribute more offensively with both the bat and his feet, the Royals may be inching closer towards a division title, because as we all came to find out, “That’s what speed do.”