by Ray Kuhn
Just stay healthy… At the end of the day that is what things boil down to for the Rockies’ David Dahl. I know I am over simplifying things, but there is no questioning the talent level for the Colorado outfielder though staying on the field has proven to be challenging.
Last season he appeared in 100 games, and in those 413 plate appearances he hit .302 with 15 HR and 67 RBI which gives us a reasonable idea of what the soon to be 26-year old outfielder is capable of. It was actually a step backwards from 2018 when he (again limited by injury) hit 16 HR and drove in 48 runs in 271 PA.
The early indications, although things certainly could change by the time we get to opening day, is that Dahl will be batting lead-off in what is a strong Colorado lineup. As an idea of what is possible, Charlie Blackmon drove in 72 runs while scoring 94 in 108 games last season out of the lead-off spot, so he could very easily surpass his ADP of 147 (38th outfielder). If Dahl ends up up not batting lead-off for Colorado, he will still be in the middle of the lineup.
So we know there is some track record of production, there is the pedigree (former first round pick) and there is the obvious red flag of health, but all of that is baked into Dahl’s draft day price. Additionally there is a lot to like about his situation, both home field and lineup. Now, let’s take a look at how Dahl profiles:
As far as power goes he grades out as elite per Baseball HQ (31% above league average), but I would like to see him with a fly ball rate of greater than 32% (down from 38% a year prior). What truly gives me some pause, although it is potentially correctable, is that his launch angle of 10.8 degrees is slightly below the league average mark of 11.2 degrees. At the same time, if we give Dahl a full season’s worth of at bats we are still talking about a 25 to 30 HR hitter.
While his contact rate is below average, 71% last season, it’s hard to argue with the quality of contact he brings to the table. His 26% line drive rate provides a nice floor to the outfielder’s production along with a 10.3% barrel rate (6.2% average), 41% sweet spot rate (33.1% average) and 38.7% hard hit rate (34.5% league average).
All in all Dahl is a solid four category contributor who, while he has elite speed, can no longer be considered a stolen base threat. The skills are there, but he likely could leave you wanting more if you draft him for what he could be as there are still too many questions. If Dahl lives up to his potential and stays healthy, he could ultimately prove to be one of those draft picks that go down as difference makers.