David Dahl could boost Rockies’ stalled offense — if he stays healthy

The Rockies’ offense is like a stubborn, 20-year-old car on a frigid winter morning. It needs a jump.

But it doesn’t look like any significant help is coming via free agency because the team says it does not intend to sign a big-money free agent. A boost could come via a trade, but that would likely mean dealing either Nolan Arenado or Trevor Story. That scenario is a one-step-forward, two-steps-back scenario.

There is, however, one player already on the roster who could potentially provide the spark and added power the Rockies so desperately need: outfielder David Dahl.

The important word here is “potentially.” Because Dahl’s sweet swing and considerable skills in the outfield have been obscured by his well-documented injury problems.

“I know I can be a good player,” Dahl, 26, said near the end of a 2020 season marred by an oblique strain and a right shoulder injury that required surgery. He played in only 24 games with just 99 plate appearances, hitting .183 (17-for-93) with no home runs, two doubles and two triples.

“I know I’ve had success while I’ve been up here. It’s a matter of availability and being out there on the field. But I’ve got to really sit down this offseason and kind of figure out what I need to do as far as figuring out my body.”

Manager Bud Black believes Dahl is on the right track and said the reports he’s received are encouraging.

“David’s rehab is going smoothly and his strength is great,” Black said. “I expect a big bounceback from David. He’s a big reason our offense will turn it around. He’s too talented a player not to.”

Colorado’s offense, despite playing at Coors Field, was not only one of the worst in the majors in 2020, but it was also one of the worst in franchise history. The Rockies’ .311 on-base percentage ranked 25th in the majors and was the worst in club history. Their team OPS of .716 ranked 18th and also was the worst in franchise history. Plus, Colorado slugged only 63 home runs, ranking 22nd in baseball.

A healthy Dahl won’t solve all of those shortcomings, but he could help.

The 2019 season was a shining example of what Dahl can do. As a first-time all-star, he appeared in a career-high 100 games, hit .302 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs, and posted a .877 OPS and a 100 OPS+. A high-ankle sprain suffered while chasing down a line drive in center field ended his season Aug. 3.

Dahl had flashed his skills before. He made his big-league debut on July 25, 2016, at age 22, and promptly hit safely in the first 17 games of his career, tying the major league record. Dahl finished the season hitting .315 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in 63 games. His .315 average tied Todd Helton in 1998 for the highest batting average by a Rockies rookie (minimum 200 at-bats).

But Dahl’s injury history is extensive. He’s been afflicted by simple bad luck, as well as injuries that call into question whether his body can withstand the grind of a full big-league season. He missed the entire 2017 season with a stress reaction in a rib that also created a back injury. In 2018 — before his nine-homer, 27-RBI September helped lift the Rockies into the playoffs — he fractured his right foot when he fouled a pitch off it against San Francisco on May 30 and didn’t return until Aug. 5.

In 2019, Dahl missed eight games in April with what the club described as a “core injury.”

Dahl’s injury issues began in the minors. In 2013, he appeared in only 10 games for low-A Ashville before missing the rest of the season with a hamstring injury. In 2015, his spleen was removed after he collided with a teammate while chasing a fly ball during a Double-A game.

Dahl’s current shoulder injury presents another challenge — perhaps his biggest yet. The shoulder began bothering him in January when he started his throwing program. But, Dahl said, because he’d spent so much of his career being injured, he decided not to report the injury.

“I figured that I’d been on the (IL) a lot, and I needed to figure this thing out on my own and push through this,” Dahl said.

The plan didn’t work. Worse, Dahl missed 22 games in August and September with an oblique injury. While he was rehabbing, he underwent an MRI on his aching right shoulder, but the test did not reveal the full extent of the damage. Dahl took a cortisone shot, but it didn’t fix the shoulder problem and he was limited to five games after his return.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *