Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Now In Texas, Can David Dahl Finally Breakout?

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After a surprising non-tender David Dahl landed on his feet, signing a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers. It’s a landing spot that makes sense, as he joins Nate Lowe as the latest young, upside hitter who will get a chance to rebuild his value in Texas.

The Rangers clearly have a need in the outfield, where Dahl currently would join Joey Gallo and Leody Taveras as the starters (though there could be further additions). The real question is whether or not Dahl can take advantage of this new opportunity.

One thing the Rockies never seemingly gave Dahl was a consistent, everyday opportunity. While part of the problem was with his ability to stay healthy, part of the issue was simply Colorado being Colorado (meaning they just never seem willing to turn a full-time job over to a young hitter). There’s little reason to think he can’t handle regular AB, as there hasn’t been a distinct split:

  • vs. RHP – .289 with 31 HR and 112 RBI (678 AB)
  • vs. LHP – .277 with 7 HR and 30 RBI (260 AB)

The bigger question is whether or not he can produce away from Coors Field. That’s not quite as simple of an answer:

  • Home – .318 with 25 HR (507 AB)
  • Road – .248 with 13 HR (431 AB)

Interestingly his HR/FB at home (18.1%) isn’t that much better than his road mark (13.1%). Instead it’s more about his ability to make contact, with a much more palatable 22.6% strikeout rate at home compared to 29.9% on the road. Clearly he was more comfortable hitting at home… Or maybe that was nothing more than a coincidence. He’s consistently struggled against all types of pitches and shown a questionable approach (career marks):

  • SwStr% – 15.0%
  • O-Swing% – 37.8%

His “best” Whiff% in ’20 was 14.73% against Hard pitches, so it’s easy to envision the strikeout issues continuing.

It’s also not like Dahl has continually torn the cover off the baseball, with a career Exit Velocity of 88.2 mph and 35.3% Hard%. In other words, taking him out of Coors Field could ultimately prove to be disastrous.

There’s no question that the outfield could struggle, and he also may not be able to maintain much power. Throw in the ability to steal a few bases, but only in the single digits, and what are we buying into? Dahl has name value, but he continues to be a player to avoid.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball

Make sure to check out all of our preliminary 2021 rankings:

PositionDate Updated
Catcher--
First Baseman11/09/20
Second Baseman11/16/20
Third Baseman11/30/20
Shortstop12/07/20
Outfielder--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--



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