For a brief moment in baseball history on Tuesday, Jarrod Dyson became a household name.
There are likely many who won't retain Dyson's name a year from now, but they probably don't live in Kansas City. Jeff Sullivan just about covered his historic steal this morning, as did about a thousand other writers all across the country. Dyson's theft of third base will probably go down as a seminal Kansas City Royals moment, in a time when those have been in awfully short supply.
Plenty of qualified people can explain how meaningful this event was, and what the mood in Kansas City was following the Royals' improbable win over the Athletics better than I can. However, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a step back and examine how in Dyson the Royals had literally the ideal player for the task when they called him in to pinch run for Josh Willingham.
Jarrod Dyson is probably the best pinch runner on the planet. Despite starting irregularly, the 30-year-old speed merchant posted 36 steals this season, his second straight year of 30+ steals with less than 300 plate appearances. Part of how he has accomplished this is with his pinch running.
Since Dyson made his major league debut in 2010 he has appeared as a pinch runner 42 times, a number bested only -- and somewhat strangely, I might add -- by Brent Lillibridge. The chart below shows the top pinch runners in terms of stolen bases during that span:
|Num||Player||Stolen Bases||Stolen Base Attempts|
There really isn't anyone who's close to Dyson when it comes to swiping bags off the bench. The fact that he's done so at a solid 78.8% clip is especially impressive, considering other teams have undoubtedly clued in to what's likely to happen when pinch runs.
Everyone knows that Dyson is going to steal when he comes in to pinch run, but he does it successfully anyway. That ability to impose his game plan on his opponent, even when they know what's coming, is a pretty good working definition of what dominance means in sports.
Excuse the football metaphor, but it brings to mind teams with great power running games that are always able to move the ball the ground, even when eight or nine men are stacked in the box against them. When Dyson enters the game, teams tend to go to great lengths to stop him from stealing bases, but it tends not to matter.
When Ned Yost put in Dyson on Tuesday, he didn't call on him to make history, he called on him to dominate, if only in a very small facet of the game. Luckily for the Kansas City Royals, that's just what Jarrod Dyson does.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Nick Ashbourne is an Editor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Ashbourne.