Pittsburgh Pirates: The Obvious and Hidden Benefits of Jarrod Dyson

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed speedster outfielder Jarrod Dyson to an MLB deal. Dyson offers obvious and not so obvious value to a Pirates club in transition.

Jarrod Dyson will finally be taking his act to the eastern time zone after suiting up for the Royals, Mariners, and Diamondbacks. Dyson has agreed to an MLB deal worth $2M with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s almost like a trade as Dyson will step into the CF position that was vacated when his former team, the Diamondbacks, traded for Starling Marte.

This is an under the radar signing that is an incredibly smart one by Ben Cherington and the Pirates for a number of reasons. The Pirates are going to be rebuilding and they are going to be using a variety of young pitchers. While it can’t be measured, the confidence of a Pirates’ pitcher knowing they have Dyson patrolling CF should be elevated.

The obvious fact is that Dyson is very fast and he is a premier defender in the outfield. Here are some not so obvious ones. Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates allowed the 10th most fly balls in baseball at 37%. The Pirates were also 12th on batted balls in the middle of the field. No matter how marginal these numbers are, the Pirates are getting an elite defender in Dyson to cover where a majority of their batted balls went. Dyson getting the most defensive opportunities is a good strategy in the same way your best reliever should get the most innings or, to cross sports, your best shooter takes the majority of a team’s shots.

Dyson also represents a huge defensive upgrade over Starling Marte. Over the past few seasons, Starling Marte was -9, +1, and +8 DRS. Compare that to Dyson, who has been +13, +9, and +15. Sure defensive numbers should have additional scrutiny, but Dyson represents a +22 run differential from Marte. Outs Above Average also preferred Dyson +6 to Marte’s +2. However you cut it, the Pirates are upgrading their CF defense.

Offensively, Dyson has slipped over the past few seasons down to a paltry .230/.313/.320. Dyson has a razor-thin margin for error from being below average or looking like a pitcher and he as closer to pitcher this past season. His exit velocity of 82 MPH is one of the worst marks MLB wide. Ultimately, Dyson’s offense doesn’t matter so long as he is contributing defensively and propping up the pitchers.

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Jarrod Dyson is the perfect signing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is going to patrol CF and do a great job of making their pitchers look good. If he hits, great he’ll be flipped to a contender. If he doesn’t, fine he’ll still probably be flipped to a contender. Dyson is the perfect signing for Pittsburgh to make the Pirates pitchers look good and be sent to a contender for a low-level lottery ticket. Dyson has one job and he’s damn good at it.

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