David Does Dallas: The Finale
As I write, exactly 50% of those surveyed on Monday about the number of games Dahl will play in 2021 selected the 91 to 120 games range. Having never played more than 100 games in an MLB season, we would surely love to see Dahl maintain his full health and appear in 150+ games. For the projections that will appear in this piece, I’ll assume Dahl is playing 125 games.
Projected onto this point of 125 games, with the same performance as Dahl in reality, Dahl’s previously successful MLB seasons would look like this:
2016: .315 / .359 /. 500 (0.859 OPS), 14 HR, 48 RBI, 2.0 bWAR, 2.4 fWAR
2017: (Injured all year round)
2018: .273 / .325 / .534 (.859 OPS), 24 HR, 68 RBI, 0.8 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR
2019: .302 / .353 / .524 (.877 OPS), 18 HR, 73 RBI, 0.5 bWAR, 1.7 fWAR
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) takes extensive account of a player’s defense value. As we know from Part 3 of this series, Dahl’s defensive value outside of his excellent limb is largely negative. Dahl’s defensive problems severely limit his performance in relation to WAR.
Regardless of Dahl’s WAR issue, we’re looking at a lineup of Texas Rangers with 76 wRC + in 2020. Simply put, the lineup as a whole got 24% fewer runs in 2020 than the league average. In the stat of 2,580 The Seasons compiled by each team since 1900, with 76 wRC + ranking the 2020 iteration of the Texas Rangers as the 53rd Worst Crime of Modern Baseball Era.
You’ll find that the 2020 Texas Rangers are neatly positioned between the 1967 New York Mets (61-101) and the 1956 Kansas City Athletics (52-102), and not exactly considered a company.
This team desperately needs above average hits, and Dahl scored 113, 111 and 110 wRC + points in 2016, 2018 and 2019. If he ranks another 110 wRC + in 2021, Rangers and the fan base should be perfectly happy with the $ 1 / 2.7 million deal that Dahl signed this off-season. If so, I’d fully expect the Rangers Dahls to take advantage of any remaining arbitration years, keeping him under team control until the end of the 2023 season.
Surely the Rangers beatwriters will write many stories about the best shape of his life by the start of spring training. Some of these stories will no doubt focus on David Dahl. Because of his selection of studs, Dahl is pretty excited and ready to become a Texas Ranger in 2021.
Out of this excitement, I am planning a positive season for David Dahl. Even if MLB mutes the ball and home runs could drop as much as 5%, I remain confident that Dahl’s contact quality will bounce back from what we rated in 2020.
If we believe that Dahl’s shoulder surgery has made this injury a thing of the past like I did, we should expect a promising performance in 2021. However, some negatives remain in Dahl’s offensive profile. His disc discipline and exit speeds leave much to be desired.
In 2019, the only year in Dahl’s career whose sample size was large enough to get a statcast impression, he reported exit velocities in the 36th percentile. Exit speed is important because as the exit speed increases, the likelihood of an out being recorded on that ball in play decreases. Also, a ball in play will typically move another 4 to 6 feet for every mile per hour added to a ball’s exit speed.
538 has an excellent graph that describes the relationship between exit speed, take-off angle, and offensive results:
Rob Arthur / 538
As you can see, as soon as you have reached an exit speed of 100 MPH, paired with a starting angle between 19 ° and 30 °, you enter the area of the home run. Dahl sees this area sparingly, with below average markings in both exit speed and take-off angle.
To exacerbate this problem, Dahl also struggles with record discipline. Statistically, Dahl is in the 17th percentile in K%, in the 27th percentile in BB% and in the 15th percentile in Whiff%.
While these statistics hamper Dahl’s good performance, let’s look at the positives too. Dahl reported a barrel rate in the 71st percentile, an xISO (expected ISO) in the 69th percentile, and a 70th percentile xSLG (expected slugging%).
With these traits together, I remain optimistic about Dahl’s 2021 season. I anticipate Dahl’s development arc will recover from its troubles in 2020 and forecast the following statistical performance for Dahl in 2021:
.286 / .347 / .528 (.875 OPS), 22 HR, 76 RBI
For you classic cars, I was sure to include HRs and RBI. If Dahl released those .875 OPS, he would likely either lead the Rangers or finish second on the team behind Joey Gallo.
We saw Dahl repeatedly pushing his boulder almost to the climax only to have it fall on top of him. It seems that he was put into a sisyphic existence. However, I expect Dahl to repeat its 2019 success in 2021. We’ll see David Dahl lift this infernal stone to new heights with each stroke.
Walker Percy, the culmination of southern philosophy, wrote:
If I had a choice between knowing the truth or searching for the truth, I would do the search.
As we continue to speculate on the future of David Dahl, in search of the truth that only the natural passage of time can confirm, we must recognize his battle for the apex of baseball as a devastatingly beautiful reflection of reality. The man is a case study of resilience that has been put down multiple times to get back on the road to relevance. Let us continue our search for its truth, and if you take just one lesson from this series, you should imagine Sisyphus happy.