Batter’s Box: Guys and Dahl
I remember way back when coming into the 2017 season, I was all aboard the David Dahl hype train. Yes, you read that right. It was then end of the 2016 season that Dahl became one of the legendary Rockies prospects who may eventually find some playing time. From the end of July on, he played 63 games, showing strong promise at the age of 22. Just as the season began, Dahl got hurt and stayed down in the minors the entire 2017 season, squelching many dreams of a breakout season. 2018 was more of the same. Some injuries and some time in the minors. However, 2018 did allow Dahl to show off some of his potential. The Rockies are notorious for blocking their prospects, but Dahl got his chance. In 77 games in 2018, Dahl crushed 16 homers with 48 RBI. Extending that over a full season, Dahl is sitting at 30 homers and 100 RBI. Dahl was poised for a solid 2019 as long as he kept the playing time, avoiding rocky decision making or rocky health.
Despite a stint on the IL with core injury, Dahl has had a strong start to the season. His 32.2% strikeout rate is well above his normal, but he’s still hitting above .300. The strikeout rate has jumped a bit as he has been both chasing pitches out of the zone more often as well as whiffing more. The whiffs have also come disproportionately on pitches out of the zone. If Dahl can learn to lay off those pitches out of the zone, he’ll see improvements. His absurd .462 BABIP has inflated his average, yet he’s hitting a crazy amount of line drives. Hitting at Coors certainly helps as well. But this game wasn’t at Coors, and Dahl still went 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 3 RBI. He got to show off that power he displayed last year with a couple of 104 mph hits for about 385 feet each. Even though Dahl has yet to steal a base this year, he has shown a knack for swiping the occasional bag, meaning 10 stolen bases on the year is not out of the question. Dahl has had a strong start, but he has plenty of room to improve and show he can be what we have been waiting 3 long years for.
There were only a handful of guys other than Dahl who played in the smaller Thursday slate of games. Let’s take a look how they fared.
Ian Kinsler (2B, San Diego Padres) — 3-6, 3 R, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI. A veteran past his prime, Kinsler certainly has looked the part. He is hitting just over .150 on the year, but this game was a nice boost. Three extra-base hits all well hit might give Kinsler some extra life. However, he seems to mostly be a stopgap now until the Padres farm is ready.
Wil Myers (3B/OF, San Diego Padres) — 2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI. Myers is in a similar spot to Kinsler. Despite Myers being one the better options on the field, he is blocking strong talent from the farm. There is a shot he could be traded, but in the meantime, he needs to keep proving his worth. He’s hitting quite like last year and the year before that, which is a good sign, but he’s striking out much more often. His strikeout rate is up almost 10 points mostly because of a higher swinging-strike rate.
Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies) — 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI. A fun fantasy baseball activity is to freak out when a superstar is not performing well for the first few weeks. In Arenado’s first 15 games, he hadn’t hit a home run and was slugging .311. The next game, he hit a home run. From that game on, he’s hit nine home runs and is close to slugging .800. It’s a long season, folks.
Mike Moustakas (2B/3B, Milwaukee Brewers) — 2-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI. Our favorite new second baseman has been pretty consistent from the start of the season. He’s hitting the ball well, turning a few of his normal grounders into fly balls. Moose is also taking more pitches. This has resulted in a both an increased strikeout rate and walk rate. He has seen fewer pitches in the zone, which can be factoring into that choice. With his current production, Moose has shown to be a solid value with the added position flexibility.
Ryan Braun (OF, Milwaukee Brewers) — 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. Braun’s year is not off to the start that many of us had hoped. He is not lining the ball as often, while topping and getting under too many balls. He’s been swinging and missing more frequently at balls out of the zone, and he has been struggling pretty evenly against all pitch types. He’ll need to make some changes in order to start producing again. His performance here was a start.
Jason Castro (C, Minnesota Twins) — 2-4, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI. Castro hasn’t gotten much playing time, especially because of Mitch Garver‘s fantastic start. However, this is the catcher position, and they all need to take a few games off here and there. Castro’s batting average is sitting in the low .200s but has been producing nicely. His nearly 1 BB/K ratio has helped his OBP be nearly double his average. He’ll be an interesting candidate if Garver’s playing time takes a hit, but there isn’t much here if Castro doesn’t play enough.
Brandon Lowe (2B/OF, Tampa Bay Rays) — 2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. I wasn’t confused before, but now I’m confused. Now … that’s it! Lowe like now. Wow! With the Rays calling up other prospect named Lowe (but pronounced Low), Brandon Lowe wants everyone to remember his name. With a seven-game hit streak, Lowe has kept his strong season going.
James McCann (C, Chicago White Sox) — 2-3, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, BB. Just like most catchers, McCann is hit with the curse of split playing time. Most of the Sox games will be caught by Welington Castillo, who hasn’t been playing well so far. Because of this, the split has essentially been 50/50, allowing McCann to show what he could be capable of. He still should only be considered in deeper leagues as long as his current playing time keeps up. If he continues to overtake Castillo, he’s a good option.
Andrew Benintendi (OF, Boston Red Sox) — 2-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB. After being declared the leadoff man, Benintendi wanted to focus on taking ownership of that role. Don’t focus on home runs; focus on getting on base. That hasn’t necessarily been put into action as well as it could have. He’s putting the ball in the air more while striking out more and walking less. His discipline has dropped by swinging at more pitches out of the zone and whiffing more on those same pitches. Take those pitches, and we got ourselves a leadoff man. Despite those struggles, he is still holding his own and hitting the ball well.
Brian Goodwin (OF, Los Angeles Angels) — 3-4, R, SB. It’s easy to talk about Mike Trout when he hits another homer, but Goodwin has had a nice start for the Angels with Justin Upton out of the lineup. He already has as many runs scored as last year in less than half the games played. He’s improved his walk rate and strikeout rate significantly from last year while hitting a ton of line drives, especially up the middle. Despite stealing a base, he’s not much of a threat on the base paths and over a full season could stretch it to 10 total. With Upton out at least another month, Goodwin can be an option in some deeper leagues.
Noah Syndergaard (P, New York Mets) — 1-3, R, HR, RBI. I don’t want to leave out Thor! He carried the Mets with a complete game shutout, and also drove in the sole run of the game with a home run. That’s how you win yourself the game.
(Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)