Position: Center Field
2017 Stats: .251/.324/.350, .238 TAv, 8.8 FRAA, 1.2 WARP
How he fits:
I’m guessing a majority of you probably read this headline and probably weren’t too excited about this idea that I’m about to spit 650 words on. I get it… but hear me out. Jarrod Dyson can bring a lot to the table for the Chicago Cubs.
Speed is the central core of Dyson’s game. His quick legs allow him to play defense and run the bases at an elite level. The last three years, Dyson has turned in FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average) marks of 9.8, 5.5, and 8.8, as the metrics have been consistently favoring him for most of his career. This year, Dyson ranked among the best in baseball among centerfielders in FRAA, and his numbers get even better when you prorate the pool to 600 plate appearances.
|Rank||Name||PA||FRAA||FRAA per 600 PA|
And the same goes for baserunning, with Dyson finding himself putting up great stolen base numbers year to year, swiping 84 bags the past three seasons. And he steals them at a rate that ranks third in baseball since 2015.
This speed could fulfill a missing part of the Cubs offense, as they ranked 24th in stolen bases (62) among all major league teams last year.
Dyson’s bat isn’t the most exciting (though it really doesn’t need to be with his defense and base stealing abilities), but there are actually some positives that lie in his offensive profile. The surface isn’t all that thrilling, as I don’t really expect you to find a .251/.324/.350 line that appealing. But… dive deeper in and you’ll find that his numbers were seriously hampered by his splits verses left-handers. He didn’t have a fun time facing southpaws last year (he really never has), ranking dead last in TAv vs. lefties (minimum 50 PA, 352 qualified hitters), owning a mark of .139 to go along with a line of .145/.230/.145. Yikes.
The line vs. righties looks light years better, though, as he owns a .271/.342/.388 line with a .257 TAv. If you could lower his percentage of plate appearances vs. lefties (16.1 percent last year) to a lower number, his numbers should figure to be a lot more respectable.
It isn’t very hard to picture what Dyson’s role would look like on the Cubs. Obviously, he would be a very useful in pinch-running and defensive replacement roles. The plate appearances wouldn’t be too hard to find either, with players like Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Albert Almora all putting up below-average numbers versus righties last year.
I think you know what you’re going to get with Dyson. Stolen bases, great defense, a minimal amount of strikeouts, and fair numbers against opposing righties. And who knows, maybe you strike gold and Dyson gets BABIP lucky (certainly possible with his speed) and he puts together a Jon Jay-esque season.
Speaking of Jon Jay, I think his contract last offseason can be used as a good benchmark for what a Dyson contract would look like. There is no chance he ends up with anything more than a two-year deal, so I’d think something around $4-6 million AAV on one or two years seems likely. That sort of contract would figure to be more on the team-friendly side of things.
If there are any questions with Dyson, it’s that he is already 33-years-old. A player at that age who’s game relies so much on speed can raise reason for concern. But obviously a short-term deal would lower the chances that Dyson hits a sudden decline with the Cubs.
Dyson can be a great addition to the bench of a contending team. Like I said, he figures to land a team-friendly contract, so he could definitely be worth a look for the Cubs.
Lead photo courtesy Peter Aiken—USA Today Sports