The Kansas City Royals are expected to place their first player on the disabled list this season, as Jarrod Dyson appears destined for the 15-day DL after suffering an ankle injury, Bob Dutton is reporting. David Lough is expected to fill Dyson's spot on the 25-man roster.
This news should not com as a huge shock for Royals fans, as Dyson's ankle injury looked fairly serious. The outfielder injured himself attempting to rob a Mike Trout home run Wednesday, and limped slowly off the field following the play.
Dyson had started five of the Royals previous eight games after receiving sparing playing time to start the season.The left-handed hitter swung the bat well in his first 42 plate appearances this season, hitting .268/.286/.561.
Dyson hit for far more power to start 2013 than he has previously shown in his entire career. He posted a .062 ISO last season in 330 plate appearances, but has an ISO of .293 this season. Dyson should hit for much less power whenever he returns to the lineup, but should also reach base at a more consistent clip.
Lough started the season in Triple-A Omaha for the fourth straight year, hitting .340/.398/.477 through 171 plate appearances. Despite Lough's strong numbers to start the season, the outfielder still looks like the same hitter who hit 15 percent below league average in Triple-A last season, as his BB%, K% and .ISO are similar. The big difference between this season and last season for Lough is his BABIP; he had a .296 BABIP in 2012, but has a .377 BABIP in 2013.
Since Lough's strong minor league numbers are mostly fueled from a unsustainable BABIP, it's difficult to tell how much progress the outfielder has made at the plate. The 27 year-old received some brief playing time for the Royals last season, hitting .237/.292/.305 in 65 plate appearances.
It will be interesting to see how well Lough plays in Dyson's absence. I personally think that Lough will be a step down from Dyson in terms of value, but you can make the argument that the two could provide similar value given similar playing time. Steamer projects Lough to hit .275/.319/.404 this season, numbers I would take in an instant the outfielder.
Even though I don't have high expectations for Lough, I would still like to see Ned Yost send him out to rightfield against most right-handed pitchers. That has more to do with the dismal performance of Jeff Francoeur than expecting Lough to set the world on fire. Francoeur has hit .221/.258/.311 in 128 plate appearances this year, a full 50 percent below league average as a hitter. I have little doubt that Lough can top those numbers, especially against righties.
I'm not sure how much playing time Lough will see, however, as Yost will not commit to a platoon in rightfield or second base. Yost said the increased playing time for Dyson and Elliot Johnson was simply him riding the hot player.
Lough probably needs to swing the bat well in his first few games to see a similar amount of playing time that Dyson did the past week. Yost could surprise and continue to use the not-platoon with Lough in place of Dyson, but this seems like a good opportunity for the manager to allow Francoeur one last chance to reestablish himself as a viable major-league hitter.
Dyson's injury could hurt the Royals if it means the return of Frenchy as a full-time player, but that decision would fall on Yost, since Lough is an acceptable platoon partner. Hopefully Lough receives the opportunity to fill the role Dyson has this week, and provides similar value.