It has taken me a long time to get onboard the Jarrod Dyson bandwagon. I spent a lot of time grimacing at his subpar reading of fly balls and his once a month adventures fielding routine two hoppers to center. The former 50th round pick’s approach at the plate would often irk me. Irk me! I tell ya!
No longer. Give me more Dyson and I’m talking about more Dyson particularly when Nori Aoki comes back from the disabled list.
There is no doubt in my mind that Lorenzo Cain is a more gifted defensive centerfielder than Dyson, but I am even more certain that Cain is much better in right than Dyson (were Dyson to ever actually play an inning at that position). My thought is based on a) The Royals love Lorenzo Cain’s defense and still move him to right when Dyson is in the lineup and b) Cain simply reads the ball better than Dyson and that ability makes him more suited to play ‘out of position’.
To be clear, both are exceptional defenders. For his career, Cain has been credited with saving 41 runs over 1865 innings in center. Dyson, in 1769 innings, has saved 31 runs (DRS via Fangraphs). Their UZR/150 is equally as impressive: Cain at 20.1 and Dyson at 22.0. In the alternative, one could just watch those two play and see that they get to just about everything hit in the air these days.
The metrics (and we’re in small sample size territory here) show that Cain is quite possibly even better in right, with a UZR/150 of 33.9 and 12 Defensive Runs Saved in just over 400 innings. You are going to have a hard time convincing me that an outfield of Gordon-Dyson-Cain is not the best defensive alignment in the game.
Offensively, check the career numbers of Aoki and Dyson versus right-handed pitching:
- Dyson: .274/.341/.364 wRC+ 95
- Aoki: .269/.346/.377 wRC+ 101
Right there, given Dyson’s ability in the field, should be all the evidence you need that Jarrod Dyson should be in the lineup against right-handed pitching every day for the rest of 2014. There’s more, however. Dyson appears to be getting better with his wRC+ progressing over the last three years from 89 to 104 to 101, while Aoki is regressing over the same period of time (125-98-64).
Let’s head down to the basement and check the two players’ fWAR:
- Dyson 2012: 102 games, 1.4 fWAR
- Aoki 2012: 151 games, 2.4 fWAR
- Dyson 2013: 87 games, 2.4 fWAR
- Aoki 2013: 155 games, 1.7 fWAR
- Dyson 2014: 51 games, 2.0 fWAR
- Aoki 2014: 68 games, 0.9 fWAR
No matter how much you love the idea of inserting Dyson as a pinchrunner onto the basepaths at a critical point in a game (which on this team with this manager, means whenever Billy Butler is on first in the 8th or 9th inning), you have to be willing to say Jarrod would be much more valuable playing all nine innings any time a right-hander appears on the mound.
Barring a hot streak from Justin Maxwell (which two different organizations have been waiting five years for) or a better-than-what-we-have-seen Aoki, I am inclined to think Dyson should play against left-handers as well, based solely on his defensive ability. That is not ideal, of course, as Jarrod has never and probably never will be an effective hitter against southpaws, but it might be the best option for now.
Some/many of you might already be onboard the Dyson train. My apologies for being late.