Jarrod Dyson’s Historic Baserunning

Jarrod Dyson is quick. This much should be obvious. Saying that Jarrod Dyson is very quick is also not a statement that should raise too many eyebrows. But it’s possible that you didn’t know that Jarrod Dyson is quick to a historic degree.

The erstwhile Royal is prevented from racking up eye-catching stolen base totals by his frequent benching versus lefty starters. Dyson owns the unusual feat of having four seasons of fewer than 300 at bats but 30 or more stolen bases (Otis Nixon had three; no else has more than one).

But when the speediest of Seattle’s offseason acquisitions does get on base, he’s historically great. Dyson’s 175-30 stolen base to caught stealing record is good for an 85.4% stolen base percentage. Since 1951 (the year caught stealings were first tracked in both leagues) that ranks second among those with at least 150 stolen bases. Only another ex-Royal, Carlos Beltrán, sports a better success rate, and Dyson’s figure just edges out recent Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines.

Dyson bolsters his numbers by excelling at stealing third base. The 32-year-old has a 39-3 record when going for third and hasn’t been caught stealing that bag since 2014. Among players with 25 recorded steals of third base, only the center fielder Brian Hunter (60-4) has a better success rate.

Stealing bags is not the only way Dyson shows off his speed. Last season Dyson went first to home on a double in five of six opportunities, and from second to home on a single 12 out of 13 times. It’s in these two areas of the game where Dyson further sets himself apart.

Advanced baserunning data is tracked on Baseball-Reference all the way back to 1930, but may be patchy the further away from present day one gets. In any case, Dyson has gone from first to home on a double in 16 out of 19 opportunities in his major league career. No one with that many recorded opportunities has as higher success rate. Similarly he has gone from second to home on a single in 56 of 65 career opportunities. That 86.2% success rate is also the best of all time with that many opportunities.

To give an idea of the difference between a great baserunner and an incredibly slow one, Billy Butler has scored from second on a single just once more than Dyson in his career, but has had 96 more opportunities.

Overall, Dyson’s percentage of taking the extra base on a teammate’s hit is 63.48%, the fourth highest total of all time among those with 175 opportunities.

Dyson rarely runs into an avoidable out on the basepaths either. Baseball-Reference tracks a statistic called Outs on Bases, which tallies the times a player ran into an out when trying to advance on a “baserunning play”. Examples include outs made while trying to take an extra base on a hit, attempting to advance on a passed ball or being doubled off the bag on a line drive. It doesn’t count force outs, caught stealings or pick offs.

[the_ad id=”8832″]Dyson has just 12 such outs on bases in his career, displaying situational awareness as well as raw speed. Few basestealers are as good at limiting outs on the basepaths. José Altuve, for example, ran into 19 outs on bases in 2015 alone, and hit double digits last year as well. The hyper-aggressive Yasiel Puig, not best known for his basestealing, had 25 outs on bases through his first two seasons and somehow has more outs on bases than actual stolen bases in his career.

Is age catching up to Dyson? He ran into a career high four outs on the bases last year and posted a career worst 81% stolen base success rate. Those figures are still outstanding though, suggesting he can still be the best baserunner in the American League, despite his advancing years.

The Seattle Mariners have not been overflowing with great baserunners since Ichiro Suzuki left the team. In Jarrod Dyson, they might just have an all-time great.

*Pictured: Jarrod Dyson, 2016 Topps Baseball