Sep 4, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson (1) drives in two runs with a single against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Why Jarrod Dyson Should Start in Center for the Royals


Sep 18, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Jarrod Dyson (1) fields a fly ball to right field in the fifth inning of the game against the Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have a potentially dynamic center fielder, a player who may be able to be a game changer in their lineup. A center fielder who could not only be a solid addition to the lineup, but could also be an excellent defensive player, as he has ranked amongst the best defensive center fielders despite his lack of playing time. A player that, if he could remain healthy, could be an important part of the Royals future. That player is none other than Jarrod Dyson.

Yes, that same description could be applied to the Royals likely starter in center in Lorenzo Cain. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the friendly rivals for the starting center field position – both have been excellent defensive players, they have the potential to be solid offensive contributors and have dealt with injuries throughout their time with the Royals. However, where Dyson truly stands out above Cain is with his blazing speed.

Even after a sprained ankle sapped Jarrod Dyson of some of his speed and limited him to only 87 games and limited his effectiveness, Dyson still outperformed Cain last season. Dyson produced a .258/.326/.366 batting line, which was similar to Cain’s .251/.310/.348 rate. Yet, where Dyson separated himself was with his speed, stealing 34 bases to Cain’s 14. With the Royals looking to put more pressure on opposing defenses this upcoming season by getting on base and making things happen upon the basepaths, Dyson could be a perfect fit.

Lorenzo Cain also has something that Jarrod Dyson does not have – experience playing different outfield positions at the major league level. While Dyson did play in left and right field in the minors, he has not appeared in either since 2011, and has yet to play a major league game anywhere aside from center. While it may not take much time for Dyson to acclimate himself to playing the corner outfield positions in the majors, his comfort level playing there could be a concern. Cain, meanwhile, has played 46 games in right, while making a couple of appearances in left. With the spacious outfield in Kauffman Stadium, it may be better to have Cain moving between the different spots to give the other outfielders a day off.

Cain, with his defensive versatility, may make a better fourth outfielder than Dyson. That role could keep Cain in the lineup a few times a week, and give the Royals an excellent option should anything happen to Dyson. Meanwhile, Dyson would slot in nicely at the bottom of the Royals lineup, potentially capable of stealing over fifty bases if he can remain healthy and get into 120 games. With that type of speed and the Royals expected ability to put the ball into play, Dyson may be the best option to start in center field come Opening Day.

While Lorenzo Cain is a solid player, Jarrod Dyson brings a potentially game changing element to the Kansas City Royals lineup. With everything else being essentially even, Dyson’s speed gives him an edge over Cain, and may give him a leg up to be the Royals starting center fielder.

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Tags: Jarrod Dyson Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain

  • ahsum99ss

    Wouldn’t that be great? Like in the days of Al Cowens, Willie Wilson and my favorite Royal, Amos Otis! Talk about the best and fastest outfield!

  • jimfetterolf

    Dyson hit .274 against righties last year, about 70 pts better than against lefties, so there is a natural platoon chance. Just a matter of whether the team keeps Dyson or Maxwell, as I really don’t see them going the season without a middle UIF or with six relievers. I’ld keep Dyson, but not my call.

    • unclejesse40

      I would agree that Dyson sticks, he just seems to fit the MO of this team better. And Maxwell probably has greater trade value especially if he hits for a lot of power in the thin air of Arizona.

  • Michael Lizalde

    If the Royals are going to be a playoff team, and contend for a championship, then we will need better options at center field than a career .251 batting average, career 34 RBIs. Speed is nice, but offensive production is non existent. We as fans should change our mind frame with players. Instead of wishing our players become good, we need to demand that we have good players. Dyson will never be a starter in MLB, and the team he ever starts for (like he has for the Royals) will never make the playoffs.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    What Dyson is doing right now is perfectly fine for what he is capable of doing. Cain has more power then Dyson does. Cain might not be faster, but that hasn’t prevented him from making great plays on defense and hasn’t prevented him while running the bases. Having Dyson on the bench is a great idea because he can come in during late game situation when Salvy or Butler get on and we need a score and a runner moved into scoring position. Dyson does more for the team playing from the bench then he does the field because he give the Royals that extra threat off the bench. Dyson’s bat isn’t the greatest and Cain, even though he is a free swinger and hacks sometimes, has a better bat, in my opinion.

    Now that Boni is gone we don’t have that speed on the bench anymore. Valencia, Ciriaco, Maxwell and whoever else aren’t as fast as Boni or Dyson. So if the Royals are down 1 run in the bottom of the 9th and Butler hits a single, we would have to bring in someone slower than Dyson because he’s in the lineup already. Having the ability to bring in a speedster from the bench is huge and can win the game more often then not. And if something happens and Cain gets hurt, then we have Dyson to fill in. But as a starter, Dyson has never impressed me, especially with his bat.

  • Marcus Meade

    I’ve been making this argument for 2 years, now. Dyson is a 3-4 WAR player if he plays every day. He does it unconventionally with defense and speed, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable. Maybe Cain has more power, but Dyson’s speed is a more reliable version of Cain’s power. For Dyson, a single is a double about 80 percent of the time because he can just steal second. And look at those SLG numbers from last season. It doesn’t look like Cain was dropping bombs last year. But what really makes Dyson a better option than Cain is his OBP. It’s been near .330 for two seasons in a row. Cain can’t get on base to save his life. Add the fact that every time Dyson gets on base it’s more valuable than when Cain does because Dyson is faster.

    The notion that Dyson provides more value from the bench is flat-out ridiculous. Yes, he does provide a great weapon off the bench, but if he had the chance to be on the bases 4 times a game instead of 0-1 time a game, he provides even more value. Saying he’s more valuable as a bench guy is like saying “Billy Butler would make a great pinch hitter; let’s pull him from the lineup so we can have him when we need a clutch pinch hit.” Nonsense. Dyson is better. He should be starting. Let Cain ride pine until he gets hurt again.

    • Tyler_KC_Fan

      In the last two years Dyson has had a WAR of 1.6 in 2012 and 1.8 in 2013. Cain had a WAR of 2.0 in 2012 and 3.2 in 2013.

      From 2012-2013, Cain played in 176 games and had 159 hits while Dyson played in 189 games and had 131 hits. Keeping with the 2012-2013 trend, Dyson had 17 doubles, 9 triples, 2 HRs and 26 RBIs. He also was successful on 64 of 75 stolen base attempts. Cain had 30 doubles, 5 triples, 11 HRs and 77 RBIs. He was also successful on 24 of 30 stolen base attempts.

      Now you can say that whenever Dyson gets on base it is basically a double every time because he always steals second and sometimes third but according to the numbers Cain looks like he’s the better overall option. If you want to throw OBP in Dyson has a .328 in 2012 and .326 in 2013 while Cain had a .316 in 2012 and a .310 in 2013. Those aren’t to far away from each other. SLG percentages, Dyson had a .322 and .366 while Cain had a .419 and .348 in those two years.

      Cain is coming off a year where he placed 2nd in the running for a Golden Glove at CF and he played CF in 92 games last year. Dyson played in 73 games at CF.

      You make it sound like Cain runs the bases as fast as Butler. Now, you can look at the number of stolen bases Dyson has compared to Cain and say, “see Dyson would be much more valuable.” But keep in mind, Dyson came into games mostly last year to do just that, to run. So of course his SB is going to be higher. The numbers are inflated for Dyson.

      My questions for you are these. You see that Dyson has played in more games than Cain has in the last two years. If Dyson is so much better then Cain, why is Dyson the #2 guy? If you see that a guy has more hits, and more extra base hits in less games then the other guy, who are you going to stick with? (In this case, Cain has more hits and extra base hits then Dyson)

      When looking at defensive performances, obviously Cain is better. If Cain wasn’t better then he wouldn’t have had the chance to win a Golden Glove and beat out every CF in the AL except for Adam Jones.

      The only thing pointing at Dyson being the “better option” is his speed. Everything else points to Cain being the best option. Unless Cain gets hurt, or they choose to rest Gordon or Aoki and Cain takes their spot, Dyson will be a bench player. He shouldn’t be upset about being a bench player either. He’s still getting paid $506,000 whether he plays or sits.

      • Marcus Meade

        Your most egregious flaw: equating games played with hitting opportunities. A much better indicator is plate appearances. Dyson, as someone who pinch runs a lot, will log many games in which he has no plate appearances (or one plate appearance). Dyson was worth 1.4 fWAR in 2012 … in only 330 PA. He was worth 2.4 fWAR in 2013 in only 239 PA. Cain was worth 2.6 fWAR in 2013 in 442 PA and 1.6 fWAR in 2012 in 244 PA. You see? Cain has only put up better WAR and countable hitting stats because he gets more plate appearances (though he will always probably hit more homeruns). Forget the fact that you’re ignoring a very important countable stat, walks. Dyson’s WAR rating is still increased by his basestealing and defense in those games, but not much, and his countable hitting stats obviously don’t increase at all. As a subsection of this egregious flaw, I’m adding relying on countable hitting stats, which are tied so heavily to plate appearances and outside factors. Also, you seem to intuitively know that counting stats are somewhat misleading as evidenced by your attack on Dyson’s stolen base numbers (though I never actually wrote anything about his stolen base totals or Cain’s).

        Your second most egregious flaw: asking the ridiculous question “If Dyson is so much better then (sic) Cain, why is Dyson the #2 guy?”. Obvious answer: Ned Yost. If you need elaboration add “is a moron.”

        Your third most egregious flaw: not understanding that it doesn’t matter why someone is more valuable, only that they are more valuable. Yes, Dyson’s primary weapon is speed. If he didn’t have it, he would not be better than Cain. But he does have it, and he is better than Cain.

        Your fourth most egregious flaw: reading. I never claimed that Cain was slow. I never claimed that Dyson deserves the job because he steals more bases. I only ever claimed that he is more valuable. He’s more valuable mainly for two reasons: 1. He gets on base more. 2. He’s valuable on the bases. I might mention also that Dyson’s production has been more consistent. You could toss in a forth with his better (though not perfect) track record staying healthy. Now, is the difference between them monumental? No. But Dyson is better, and yes, every player should be upset about being a bench player because every player should want to start.

        • Michael Lizalde

          Seriously debating Cain vs Dyson? Neither is good enough for the Royals if the Royals are to be a playoff team. CF should be a player that is the best outfielder with offensive pop. Royals need to stop messing with .250-.260 hitters. Hoping they will improve at the plate.

        • unclejesse40

          I will add a wrinkle to this debate, Dyson to me is only more valuable if he is batting at the bottom of the lineup and I mean #9, and Aoki and Infante are batting him in with his speed. If Yost puts him to high up in the order it could be a disaster.

          • Dave Hill

            That’s exactly what i see for him this year – someone that could provide solid production from the bottom of the order and be a true burner on the basepaths in front of Aoki and Infante. Having two players able to handle the bat at the top of the order could give Dyson more chances to showcase his speed.

        • Tyler_KC_Fan

          I love it when people can’t have a debate without getting personal.

          Let me ask you this question. Why is Escobar still playing SS for the Royals? Is it because of his great/consistant bat? Is it because of his ability to run the bases? No. Escobar had his best year in 2012 but other than that his batting is nothing to get excited about. His WAR was 3.5 in 2012 and 2.7 in 2011, otherwise its been below a 1.0. His batting average reached .293 in 2012 and every other year has been lower than a .255 along with his OBP being below .300 in 3 of his 4 years as a starter. So why is it he is still with the Royals?

          …..

          It’s because of his abilities on defense. Escobar is one of the best SS in the game. Just like Cain proving last year that he can be one of the best CF in the game. Cain had a .997% fielding percentage and contributed with 247 putout with 7 assists to only 1 error. Dyson, in 19 less games, had a .973 fielding percentage and contributed with 176 putout with 3 assists and 5 errors. Cain finished 2nd in the Golden Glove race.

          Like you said, their may not be a large number of things that make these two players different or make one player stand out as a better CF than the other, but speed isn’t everything. Just having speed doesn’t make you the best option. The ability to play defense and play at a high level with a support on offense is what makes Cain the better option.

          Throw all the insults you want at me and come back with more offensive numbers as to why Dyson is better, but when it comes down to it defense beats speed. Cain has plenty of speed to excel in CF (which he proved), he has better skills in CF (hints the 2nd place finish in the Golden Glove race) and his offensive number’s aren’t the best but they aren’t terrible either.

  • teewashy

    That picture’s a joke right? Does his facial hair grow in naturally all white trashy like that? And that hair. OMG that hair.

  • Josh Kaullen

    Dyson has no arm. Couldn’t make a throw from the wall to second base. Cain all the way. Shouldn’t even be a question if he is healthy.