The Kansas City Royals will open the 2014 season with 5 outfielders on their roster. Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Norichika Aoki will start, left to right, for the Royals. Justin Maxwell will provide a right-handed power bat off of the bench. The other reserve outfielder will be a noted speedster/defensive whiz, Jarrod Dyson.
Regardless, Dyson is still a formidable presence on the basepaths. Everyone in baseball knows and fears Dyson’s speed. Over the last two seasons, Dyson has stolen 64 bases. This is an impressive accomplishment by itself because it ranks 9th in the majors over that time.
What’s more impressive is how many attempts it took Dyson to reach that number. Because Dyson is a part time player, his opportunities to get on base are limited to whenever he gets a start (he started 87 games for the Royals last year), and whenever he’s brought in as a pinch runner.
This means that Dyson managed to successfully steal a base an astounding 85.3% of his attempts. This is because Dyson isn’t just fast, he’s also one of the smartest, most efficient baserunners in baseball.
Consider the following: Jarrod Dyson’s career 86.6 SB% ranks 5th all time in baseball history according to baseball-reference.com. Yes, in baseball history.
To get a better idea of Dyson’s baserunning prowess, let’s take a look at the most prolific two-year run of stolen bases in baseball history, Ricky Henderson’s 1982-83. Let me start by stating the obvious. In no way am I trying to compare Dyson to Henderson in anything other than stolen base efficiency. There’s a reason that Henderson was a first ballot Hall of Famer and Dyson is on the Royals’ bench. That said, here are some numbers.
|Dyson 2012-13||Henderson 1982-83|
|Stolen Base Attempts (SBA)||75||299|
|# of Times on Base (ToB)||211||515|
- Let’s take a moment to appreciate Henderson’s numbers. That guy was crazy good.
- The ToB stat counts number of times a player appeared as a pinch runner, but does not count the number of times that player reached on an error. The metrics would be more precise with the reach on error numbers because fast players frequently force bad throws and reach on errors more often. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place that gave me the amount of times a player reached on an error.
- SBA/ToB is included because it gives an idea of how often a player attempts to steal a base as a percentage of how often he gets on base. This doesn’t take into account a runner stealing more than one base during a single time on base (i.e stealing second then third base.)
As you can see, Dyson’s SB% is extremely high, which has already been established. What stands out is that, while Henderson attempted a steal in more than 58% of the times he was on base, Dyson only attempted a stolen base 35.5% of the time he was on base.
Dyson is so efficient at stealing bases that you’d expect him to take advantage of that by stealing more often. However, his high SB% is a result of his lower tendency to steal. Dyson picks his spots better than almost anyone in MLB history and that is why he is so efficient.