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What Mariners Fans Get in Jarrod Dyson

Guest post by Max Rieper of Royals Review

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
if you want it come and get it, na na na na
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

On Friday, the Mariners traded RHP Nate Karns to the Royals in exchange for OF Jarrod Dyson. Ethan wrote up a little piece on Karns for Royals Review, and now Max Rieper is here to return the favor and give us a sneak peek scouting report on the newest member of the Mariners. Thank you, Max!

Jarrod Dyson is one of those players that creates perhaps the widest gulf in opinion between casual mainstream fans and fans more attuned to analytics. To the casual fan, he is a fourth outfielder who can't hit, who plays erratic defense and can steal a base. To the analytic fan, he is one of the most underrated players in baseball, one of the best baserunners and defenders in the game, who can get on base and was the Royals' best player in 2016.

Dyson was originally drafted in the 50th round in a draft in which the Royals did not even have a General Manager, with Allard Baird having been fired a month earlier, and Dayton Moore a week from taking over. The Royals took a flyer on him after he was noticed by legendary Royals scout Art Stewart.

The process was akin to buying a lottery ticket. One year, Stewart made a late-round selection because he was enamored with the kid’s name — he was related, somehow, to “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. On this day, though, Stewart scanned the list of names and saw a junior-college outfielder named Jarrod Dyson. He had graded out with “80” speed, the highest number in the scouting vernacular, and while his other skills were far from polished, the speed was something.

“What the hell?” Stewart thought.

Dyson never made any Royals prospect lists and for awhile it seemed like he would be destined to be just a pinch-runner. Eventually he forced his way onto the roster, and under the tutelage of Royals coach Rusty Kuntz, he became not only an outstanding baserunner, but an outstanding defender as well.

Dyson can play all three outfield positions, although he excels in center where he can cover a lot of ground. He struggled a bit in right field, not because of his arm, but because he did not seem to recognize how the ball came off the bat as well from those angles. His arm is not strong, but it is very accurate, and he has 19 outfield assists over the last two seasons, 15th-most among all outfielders in that time. To the casual fan he may seem lackadaisical at times, and occasionally he may make the unforced error. But overall he gets to way more flyballs than most outfielders, making up for any silly errors he may make.

His hitting is not terrific, but against right-handers it is acceptable. His walk rate was consistently among the best on the team and he actually led the team in on-base percentage this year at .340. He is a below-average bunter, infuriating fans that would like to see him use his speed; however, he makes even routine infield ground balls close plays. He has stayed relatively healthy, although he did miss two weeks at the beginning of this past season with an oblique injury.

As a base-stealer, Dyson has few peers. His stolen base percentage is 85%, and over the last 50 years, only three players in baseball have been more successful at swiping bases. Of course he has great speed, but he has also become a student of the game, picking up on pitcher tells. This was huge in the 2014 Wild Card Game when he made a critical and bold decision to steal third by reading Sean Doolittle's movements. Dyson does have a tendency to slide too late, causing him to overslide the bag. Some of the few times he has been caught stealing were when he slid too far and his entire body slid past the bag, allowing the defender to tag him.

Dyson is a player with bravado who meshed well in the Royals clubhouse, although he almost certainly rubbed some people the wrong way. He can be loud, boisterous, and cocky, but ultimately he wants to work hard and love his teammates. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and he was a fan favorite with his exuberance for the game such as when he did a backflip when the Royals took over first place. This trade will likely hit Eric Hosmer the hardest, as the two players were closest on the team.

Jarrod Dyson was a much-loved player at Royals Review, where we felt he was criminally underused. Dyson would be best used as a semi-regular at the top of a lineup who sits against tough lefties and plays centerfield. But he is versatile enough to fill other roles, and with the Mariners collecting terrific defenders in the outfield, Dyson should have no problem fitting in. Enjoy him, Mariners fans.

It sure looks like we will, if only because he comes pre-loaded with his own special song. Many thanks to Max, and you can continue the trade chat over at Royals Review.

(Good luck getting this song out of your head, btw)