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Jarrod Dyson adds elite speed to the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jarrod Dyson poses during photo day at the team's training facility, Feb. 20, 2018, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Speed kills, though new Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Jarrod Dyson prefers a different saying: Speed wins ballgames.

“That’s my little slogan,” he said Tuesday, one day after signing a two-year, reported $7.5 million free-agent contract. “That’s what speed do, so looking forward to putting that to work.”

Since 2012, Dyson ranks second in Major League Baseball in stolen base percentage (84.0) and fifth in steals (184). Plus, he’s one of only three players to record 20-plus stolen bases in each of the last six seasons, joining Jose Altuve and Elvis Andrus.

By comparison, the D-backs have had one player — first baseman Paul Goldschmidt — reach 20 or more steals in back-to-back seasons during that same time.

“Elite, elite,” manager Torey Lovullo said of Dyson’s speed. “That’s an element that we didn’t necessarily have last year. We have some very good, smart, aggressive base runners with above-average speed but when you’re talking about top-end speed, Jarrod is at the head of the class.”

What Dyson, 33, doesn’t give the D-backs, and hasn’t over his eight-year career, is a lot of power. He’s hit only 12 home runs in his career, though he did hit five in 111 games with the Seattle Mariners last season.

In other words, he’s not J.D. Martinez.

Without Martinez, who agreed to sign a big-money contract with the Boston Red Sox on Monday, the D-backs focused on improving their ability to run the bases.

“There’s different ways to create runs, right? And that’s going to be a different element than we had last year,” GM Mike Hazen said. “We had some speed. With (first base coach) Dave McKay, we do a great job on the bases, guys do a really good job and adding speed with usable speed, the ability to steal bases when people know you’re stealing a base, I think that can only help us win games.”

Dyson’s speed is not just limited to the bases. It can also serve the D-backs well on defense, especially late in games.

“Given the structure of the division we play in and the outfields, there’s a lot of running that goes on,” Hazen said. “The games in Colorado are tough just given the size of that outfield, given the altitude that you have to play at. I think our outfield is enormous. AT&T (Park) provides a fairly unique setting there. I think having guys that are fresh on their legs is important and he does that.”

Dyson is one of six outfielders on the D-backs’ 40-man roster. Two — David Peralta and A.J. Pollock — are returning starters, leaving Dyson to compete with Socrates Brito, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Yasmany Tomas.

Though primarily a center fielder throughout his career, Dyson does have experience in both left field (43 starts) and right field (36).

“I don’t care where I play as long as I’m out there and able help the team, that’s all that matters to me,” he said. “I’m not a selfish guy, so I don’t care where you put me at. I just go out there and play hard and do whatever I can to help this team win a game.”

Like many players in his position, Dyson experienced a slower-than-normal free agency period, though both he and Hazen mentioned the two sides had been on each other’s radars for much of the offseason.

“Might be best to go through arbitration right about now than free agency,” he said, smiling.

“I’m just happy we was able to get a deal done,” Dyson added. “The most important part for me is going out there and having a job and being able to play and provide for my family. At the same time, I want to come here to a winning atmosphere and help these guys out.”

Most SB in MLB since 2012

Rk Player SB From To Tm
1 Dee Gordon 254 2012 2017 LAD-MIA
2 Billy Hamilton 243 2013 2017 CIN
3 Jose Altuve 224 2012 2017 HOU
4 Rajai Davis 217 2012 2017 TOR-DET-CLE-OAK-BOS
5 Jarrod Dyson 184 2012 2017 KCR-SEA
6 Starling Marte 181 2012 2017 PIT
7 Ben Revere 177 2012 2017 MIN-PHI-TOR-WSN-LAA
8 Jacoby Ellsbury 168 2012 2017 BOS-NYY
9 Elvis Andrus 164 2012 2017 TEX
10 Mike Trout 161 2012 2017 LAA
11 Carlos Gomez 159 2012 2017 MIL-HOU-TEX
12 Jean Segura 151 2012 2017 LAA-MIL-ARI-SEA
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/20/2018.