David Dahl’s departure from the Colorado Rockies will haunt the franchise in the same way that the chasm left by DJ LeMahieu hasn’t been filled.
With word that former Colorado Rockies outfielder David Dahl has now inked a one-year, $3 million deal with the Texas Rangers, it seems that the Dahl chapter in Denver has officially closed.
The deal also caused a bit of a flashback to the departure of DJ LeMahieu from the Rockies following the 2018 season. Colorado believed it had the internal means to replace the (at that time) three-time Gold Glove winner, two-time All-Star, and one-time National League batting champion with internal options such as Ryan McMahon and maybe even then-prospects Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers when their time came. Throw in a free agent signing of Daniel Murphy to strengthen the Rockies batting order (for roughly the same amount that LeMahieu would sign with the New York Yankees) and, hey, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, Rockies fans know the answer to that question all too well. LeMahieu flourished in the Big Apple while Murphy floundered in Denver as the Rockies tried a number of things to replace LeMahieu’s offensive prowess.
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Two offseasons later, the Rockies could well have made the same mistake all over again when it comes to Dahl and pushing their chips to the center of the table that there are options to fill in for Dahl.
Certainly Rockies fans will point to Dahl’s history of injuries and a 2020 that saw him slump mightily (slashing .183/.222/.247 in 99 plate appearances) after such promise in 2019 that included an All-Star Game appearance. But let’s not forget that, in LeMahieu’s final Colorado season, he was on the then-disabled list three times before the end of July. At the age of 30, LeMahieu’s health suddenly became a question. Two years later, LeMahieu was landing yet another top four finish in the race for the American League MVP.
When Dahl went down in his 100th game of the 2019 season with a high ankle sprain, he was on a tear at the plate. When he went down in the Coors Field outfield on August 2, Dahl was batting .311 (14-for-45) since July 21. Going 1-for-3 in the game against San Francisco before the injury, Dahl had extended his hitting streak to 10 games and hit safely in 11 of his last 12 contests. He entered that game third in the National League with 45 RBI since May 30, batting .407 (24-for-59) during that span with runners in scoring position.
Dahl was doing what the Rockies needed him to do, bringing another bat outside of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story to the Colorado lineup. Now that bat and the promise it brings is heading to Arlington, Texas.
The Rockies are taking a gamble that there are others who can step up in Dahl’s place, and that pressure will likely fall squarely on the shoulders of Sam Hilliard, Yonathan Daza, and Hampson in center field. It’s a gamble the Rockies didn’t win when LeMahieu left … and the odds aren’t looking much better two years later.
Rockies fans will remember well when Dahl first broke into Major League Baseball in 2016 and tied an MLB rookie record by debuting with a 17-game hitting streak. Dahl tied the record established by Chuck Aleno in 1941 with a first-inning single … against Texas … in Arlington.
Colorado fans will also remember the start of the 2020 season with a 1-0 loss in Texas as the Ranges opened up Globe Life Field. The Rockies mustered just three hits that night, all coming from their leadoff hitter, Dahl.
Dahl has already made some pretty good memories with the Rangers involved. This crystal ball is saying there are more to come as Rockies fans wonder, just like LeMahieu, why their franchise let him go when it really wouldn’t have taken that much to keep him in the fold.