No. 46) Jarrod Dyson, outfielder, 2010-16
There is perhaps no player that Kansas City Royals fans favor more than Jarrod Dyson. Known for his speed, defense and small-ball proficiency, Dyson was the embodiment of the values the team embraced during their playoff runs. He’s compiled over 200 career stolen bases and is responsible for, in my mind, the most important play in team history. With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning in the 2014 Wild Card Game, the Royals trailed Oakland, 7-6.
They had been desperately clawing their way back and could smell extra innings. Dyson put the season on his shoulders and took off for third base. He was safe. His swagger was palpable. Nori Aoki knocked Dyson in with a sacrifice fly, leading us to conclude that he probably wouldn’t have scored without the stolen base. Therefore, Salvador Perez wouldn’t have driven the ball down the third-base line, the boys wouldn’t have swept through the playoffs and wouldn’t have gone toe-to-toe with the Giants.
Who knows how 2015 would have gone without that hunger that remained from a close Game 7 loss in 2014. That steal of third by Dyson quite literally shaped the franchise’s modern history just as much as any acquisition has. After the game, Dyson, of course, quipped “that’s what speed do.”
No. 45) Danny Duffy, starting pitcher, 2011-present
It is surprising that Danny Duffy ranks this high when you consider that he hasn’t yet completed a full season out of the starting rotation, but he is a fighter. He has faced many injury issues over his seven seasons. He underwent Tommy John surgery after a promising start to the 2012 season, and a rib cage injury derailed his again promising 2014 campaign.
Duffy was a vital asset out of the bullpen during the 2015 run. After beginning the next season in the bullpen, he lengthened back out into a starter and was the ace the rest of the way. His season was punctuated by a 16-strikeout performance in Tampa against the Rays. Although his 2017 season was again hampered by injuries, Duffy continues to be solid when healthy and is under contract with the team for many more years.