2019 Overdraft Alert: Is David Dahl Too Risky To Select?

15
2020

The Rockies’ David Dahl has long been viewed as a high upside option, he only needed to stay healthy and be given the opportunity for regular playing time.  That finally came in 2018 and he seemingly lived up to those expectations, sending the hype machine into full throttle:

249 At Bats
.273 Batting Average (68 Hits)
16 Home Runs
48 RBI
31 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.536 Slugging Percentage
.311 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Is it time to make room on the hype train?  Don’t be so quick, as there are numerous reasons to think that his production will fall well short of last season’s marks.

Approach
While his average was strong, Dahl’s actual approach left a lot to be desired with a 15.4% SwStr% and 39.6% O-Swing%.  That alone calls into question his ability to maintain even the pedestrian 25.1% strikeout rate he carried in 2018.  The fact that he struggled to make regular contact against all types of pitches, especially “hard” pitches, looms large (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 17.74%
  • Breaking Balls – 13.68%
  • Offspeed – 20.28%

Opposing pitchers were already throwing him just 54.59% fastballs, and with 10 HR against fourseam fastballs (and 2 HR against sinkers) there’s a good chance that pitchers continue down this path. 

Power
Building off the pitches seen, just look at his SLG against non-hard pitches from last year:

  • Changeup – .385
  • Slider – .455
  • Curveball – .361

Even the mark against sliders isn’t truly indicative of his performance, as he hit 1 HR against each type of pitch last season.  Could opposing pitchers start to throw him even fewer fastballs?  Even if they don’t it’s easy to envision a 23.2% HR/FB regressing, despite playing half his games in Coors Field.  Just consider that at Triple-A over the previous two seasons (147 AB) he had totaled 4 HR.  That would put him on pace for about 16 HR over a full season, a far cry from the bloated mark he showed last season.

Playing Time
Sure it seems like the Rockies will hand him regular playing time, but does anyone truly trust Colorado to do so?  How about whether or not Dahl can stay healthy?

 Then you have the risk of a platoon, as the left-handed hitter could sit against southpaws, and the risks continue to build.

Conclusion
While there is potential that no one can argue, it would seem like the hype machine has been ratcheted up a little too far.  In NFBC formats he currently holds an ADP of 69.94, meaning you need to spend around a sixth round draft pick to acquire him.  Given the risks, does that make sense?  It shouldn’t, and fantasy owners would be better served to look elsewhere (like Marcell Ozuna, Mitch Haniger or Eddie Rosario, all of whom are being selected after Dahl).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, NFBC

15 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah it makes perfect sense to avoid him on draft day, but I own him in a dynasty league. Do you think I should try to sell Dahl?

  2. Currently debating my last 3 keeper spots, and Dahl is one of my options. From the sound of it, I’m guessing you will pick option 3?

    12 team 5×5 roto keepers league, keep 15, start C,1B,2B,3B,SS,IF,4OF,DH,5SP,3RP,1P. Set lineups weekly, start season with 2 Free Agent pickups and gain another every 2 weeks. I think our format leans towards keeping more elite SP, as we can’t stream with the limited FA pickups.

    My 12 Keepers set in stone
    1B – Hoskins (1B/OF)
    2B – Albies
    3B – Arenado
    SS – Lindor
    IF – Machado (3B/SS)
    OF – JD Martinez, Benintendi, Meadows
    DH – Senzel
    SP – Verlander, Nola, Berrios
    RP –

    Option 1
    OF – Dahl
    SP – Mikolas, R. Lopez

    Option 2
    OF – Dahl
    SP – Suarez
    RP – Leclerck

    Option 3
    SP – Mikolas, R. Lopez
    RP – Leclerck

    Which option do you like best?

  3. This article is silly. Dahl missed almost all of 2017 due to a rib injury so its understandable that his brief at bats in minor leagues that year would be poor. As well after not playing for a year it too is understandable that he would be rusty starting 2018 after missing most of the previous year. It is very misleading to say he has not shown power in the minor leagues using that very small sample size.

    Layer on top of that the Rockies initially gave him irregular playing time after being called in last year. Only around August did he finally start feeling comfortable and we all so the results once that happened. He is a stud. The only real risk with him is injury as he is made of glass otherwise he is Charlie Blackmon with a bit more power and a bit less speed.

    Don’t go overboard but if you are taking Mitch Haniger types over him I want you in my pool….

    • I never said he hasn’t shown power, I just wouldn’t expect him to maintain last year’s marks.

      I also think the approach is the bigger issue and could lead to some real struggles.

      • Fair enough but at the same time due to the reasons I outlined above it isn’t accurate to use his HR rate of 4/147 at minor league bats over the past two years to project 16 Hrs from him this year.

        Those two years in the minors have a huge asterisks around them due to him coming back from a serious injury. His prior minor league power numbers were far better. To imply that Dahl simply fluked into some power last year, based on his 2017/18 minor league numbers is misleading.

  4. Interesting read. I’m hoping for a little more than you suggest here in 2019 but am tempering expectations simply because of durability concerns. Question on value for you. I’m in a 10 team points league where we keep 3 players at their last drafted position. I’m trying to decide between keeping Trevor Story at round 5 and David Dahl at round 24. Both have injury concerns. What do you think?

    • All else being equal I’d prefer Story. My guess is that you can trade Dahl, given the hype, and turn him in to even better value though

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