Jarrod Dyson has been one of the best fourth outfielders in baseball the last three seasons, amassing 6.8 Wins Above Replacement (bWAR) in less than 300 at bat per season. That’s a pretty impressive total when you consider the average major-league regular earns about 2.0 WAR per season.
Just what can the 31-year-old Dyson do if he played full time?
The answer might just be that he’d be less productive in 600 plate appearances as a regular than in 300 plate appearances coming off the bench. Coming off the bench allows his manager to deploy him in situations that make the best use of Jarrod Dyson’s range in the outfield and his speed on the basepaths. Playing full time will force Dyson to utilize his weak hit tool much more often.
Jarrod Dyson has slashed a mere .255/.320/.343 over his six-year career, for an OPS+ (On Base Plus Slugging adjusted for park factors) of 83 (17% below a league-average hitter. The big problem is that Jarrod Dyson doesn’t get on base enough and has next to no power (six career home runs).
On the other hand, Jarrod Dyson could be a terror on the basepaths in a full-time job. He’s racked up 126 steals the last four seasons (averaging more than 30 per year) as a part-time player. Ned Yost could expect more than 50 stolen bases—or even 60—from Dyson as a full-time player.
Dyson is also outstanding in the field. His career Ultimate Zone Rating/150 (UZR prorated over 150 games) is an impressive 20.3 (meaning he saves an estimated 20.3 runs over a league average fielder). With Dyson in the field, the KC Royals can deploy what Grantland called “The Ultimate Outfield” in 2014. This group of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Dyson figures to be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball history.
The concern is that Dyson’s speed and range might wear down with regular use, especially considering that both are on the downside given his age (31). Second, Dyson’s bat might degrade as pitchers see him more often and get more incentive to suss out the holes in his swing.
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