SF Giants Under-The-Radar Targets
#3 David Dahl
In probably the most surprising non-tender of the year, the Colorado Rockies decided to let 26-year old outfielder David Dahl enter the free-agent market instead of paying him around $3 million through arbitration. The tenth overall pick by the Rockies in the 2012 draft, Dahl has long been one of the organization’s best prospects.
From 2016-2019, Dahl hit .297/.346/.521 with an average of 36 doubles, 9 triples, and 26 home runs per 162 games and looked perpetually on the verge of becoming one of the best outfielders in baseball. He still has many of the tools that made him a top-ten pick in the draft. Scouts thought he had a legitimate ability to hit for average and power with the above-average speed necessary to be a solid centerfielder.
With that said, there’s no sugarcoating his 2020 season. Dahl was limited by a shoulder injury to just 24 games and hit .183/.222/.247. While still young, this was not the first time he’s dealt with a severe injury. Since 2014, Dahl has only played in more than 100 games in a season (in the major and minor leagues combined) once. There’s still plenty of reason to believe that Dahl can be a big-time player, but his health remains a perpetual concern.
Many will point to Dahl’s home-road splits, since he played his home games at Coors Field. Over his career, Dahl has hit .318/.361/.556 at Coors and .248/.302/.420 everywhere else, including a .513 slugging percentage in 41 plate appearances at Oracle Park. However, recent research has begun to pushback on the benefits of playing for the Rockies.
While Coors Field is obviously a hitter’s paradise, substantial evidence suggests that it has a detrimental impact on players when they play on the road. DJ LeMahieu has become the perfect example of how Colorado’s home-field may be a disadvantage to some hitters. In his final three seasons with the Rockies, LeMahieu hit .345/.409/.479 at Coors Field and .277/.327/.405 on the road. Since joining the New York Yankees, he’s become one of the best hitters in baseball.
Dahl’s 195-point dip in OPS away from Coors is far less concerning in comparison to the 156-point gap that LeMahieu showed before leaving. In fact, Dahl’s OPS on the road was just 10 points lower than LeMahieu’s in his final three years with the Rockies and was over 50 points higher than LeMahieu’s road OPS during his entire tenure in Colorado.
Defensively, Dahl has been a league-average defender at all three outfield positions over his career, although he’s been best in right field. His career .857 OPS against right-handed pitchers could make him the perfect fourth outfielder capable of platooning with Mauricio Dubón in centerfield.
Even if Dahl will never reach the ceiling many had projected, he is well suited to be a rotational contributor for the Giants in 2021. Still, at his age, and given the uniqueness of playing in Coors Field, there’s plenty of reason to believe his best has yet to come. Furthermore, whoever signs him this offseason, will be able to tender him a contract for arbitration in 2022 if he has a bounceback year.
While fans fantasize about the SF Giants 2021 roster, they’ll obviously spend a lot of time considering the biggest names at the top of the free-agent market. However, David Dahl, Brad Miller, and Anthony Bass could all be huge upgrades to their roster. Each could fill an obvious need and, in the case of Dahl and Bass, might have even more upside.