Across the Colorado Rockies’ clubhouse, there’s seldom a player as soft-spoken as David Dahl. As his hitting reaches new heights of acclaim among his teammates, the outfielder is making waves, even if the national media turns a blind eye.
On Wednesday, the league will begin their finalist round of All-Star voting. Of the nine outfielders that advanced to the final round of starter voting, Dahl is absent. Names like Albert Almora Jr., Nick Markakis and Jason Heyward stood tall above the Rockies’ youngster.
“It doesn’t surprise me, I’ve seen David (Dahl) rake like this all the time,” Ryan McMahon said. “To me, it’s just kind of another thing, but it’s definitely something that deserves attention. I sent in a couple of (All-Star) votes for him.”
The sentiment is one that’s shared through the Rockies’ roster.
Sandwiched between Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado most nights, Dahl has missed out on the proverbial hype train that follows the top young outfielders in the game. While his notoriety hasn’t been helped by the stars around him, the outfielder sees the value.
“I think it’s a great place for me because Charlie (Blackmon) and (Trevor) Story are in front of me and Nolan (Arenado) is behind me,” Dahl said. “I get a lot of pitches to hit.”
The problem in the way of an extended breakout for Dahl has been injuries.
In 2017, he suffered a rib cage injury that resulted in a full season missed, followed by a fractured right foot in 2018. Between the two substantial ailments, the budding star was forced to miss 216 games.
Outside of a left-core injury in April, Dahl has now played in 70 games in 2019, showcasing the talent that was behind the veil of impingements all this time.
A .317 batting average has Dahl sixth among all National League players. His average exit velocity is at an all-time high (88.9), as is his barrel percentage (12.0). In the dreary annals of a career set back by injuries thus far, he’s showcasing the best version of himself yet.
The lack of recognition is nothing new for the Rockies. The player that endured the most similar absence of acclaim was the club’s former second baseman who has since departed to the New York Yankees.
“It’s kind of like that same thing you (saw) with D.J. (LeMahieu),” McMahon said. “Not a lot of love from the fans, but then the players always voted him in. Hopefully, something that like that happens with Dahl. It stinks to see a guy like David who’s had so much success not get more recognition.”
LeMahieu, since departing, has hit for the highest average in the American League for the Yankees (.333). The narrative of Coors Field has followed many players throughout their history.
Todd Helton and Larry Walker have dealt with the effects most recently in their Hall of Fame case. Even Kyle Freeland failed to benefit from the opposite case for pitchers at the park in last year’s NL Cy Young race.
It’s a fact that Dahl’s home park has provided support. Among all 30 parks, it’s produced by far the most runs per game according to ESPN’s Park Factors (1.612). The ignored factor is the increased difficulty on the road.
With balls breaking further away from his home ballpark, Dahl has been forced to adjust. In the eyes of journeyman Chris Iannetta, the Rockies’ home is far from the greatest place to hit.
“In terms of an offensive havens, there are other places I’d rather play for offensive numbers,” Iannetta said. “Left field of Fenway Park is a joke, right field at Yankee Stadium is a joke. Milwaukee is a launching pad, Cincinnati is a launching pad. Those are all better places to hit than Coors.”
“There’s a lot of really great places to hit that don’t get discounted like Coors.”
To make matters worse for Dahl, his luck has lacked. Coming up only inches short of adding to his home run total has even earned him a new moniker.
“It sucks because I’ve seen (David) hit five or six balls off the wall,” McMahon said. “We literally call him ‘off-the-wall Dahl.’ If those just happen to go over, just an extra four feet, then it’s a completely different conversation.”
With the addition of six long balls, Dahl would be at 15 on the year. Among NL outfielders, that total would be at 12th, just outside a tie for a top-10 mark of 16. Instead, he’s 26th with nine.
The way the game is trending has hurt Dahl’s case. Home runs are on pace to finish at their highest total ever, with batting averages and consistently getting on base falling to the wayside.
Without a spot in the fans voting, Dahl will have to await his fate. The players and Commissioner’s Office will now take the reins.
A trip to Cleveland is likely for several Rockies’ stars. For Dahl, he’s merely hoping to get the call.
*Stats accurate as of June 25th