I am, what I’ll refer to as a graybeard millennial, one of the first ones in. So the TV show All In The Family was before my time. However, my Dad would watch the reruns of it and especially its spinoff, The Jeffersons, that was more successful (and funnier IMO) than the original. Many of you probably have no idea what I’m talking about so I’ll lay it out, it was basically Family Guy before Family Guy. The main character, Archie Bunker, is a bartender dad who is very outspoken, not the smartest, narrow-minded, and often judges everyone based on stereotypes/racism (back when that was funny, good times huh?). Their nextdoor neighbors were the Jeffersons, a black family whose father George was a friend of Archie despite his bigotry and often called out his BS. The Jeffersons spinoff is basically when George’s business takes off and he’s able to move the family from Queens to an upperclass apartment in Manhattan and GTFO and away from Archie. Upward mobility.
“Coolwhip,” you say, “I love a nice synopsis of a 70s sitcom as much as anyone; but, what in the name of Sherman Hemsley does this have to do with David Dahl? This is about Dahl right? That’s why he’s in the name?” Yes it is, come fly with me and I’ll feed you baby bird. So I’ve been perplexed (word of the day) by Dahl’s lack of HR power to date like we all have, despite the the fact that his current ratio line is .297/.347/.481, slugging .481 is pretty damn good for only having 4 HRs. So lets dive in:
Stat Line #1
2018 – 7.0% BB, 25.1% K, .261 ISO, .311 BABIP, .534 SLG, .454 xSLG (16 HR, 11 2B)
2019 – 6.3% BB, 30.5% K, .184 ISO, .417 BABIP, .481 SLG, .522 xSLG (4 HR, 13 2B)
Mike, “You know, you are totally incomprehensible.” Archie, “Maybe so, but I make a lot of sense.”
Okay so huh, what, absolutely. His walk rate is down a tick and he’s striking out 5% more, thats not so good. The lack of HRs explains the difference in ISO, but he’s still slugging pretty high as I stated before due to surpassing his 2Bs from last year in 100 less ABs… so there’s silver lining in the Expected SLG (goofy math that quantifies hard hit probability based on exit velo, launch angle, and batted ball quality) being .522, so there’s room for positive regression (progression?). This means he should be getting better results based on his contact data despite the fact that his BABIP is a bit high, so lets take look at that next.
Stat Line #2
2018 – 9.3% Barrel(17), 88.7 EV, 13.9 LA / 26.2% LD, 28.4% FB, 38.8% Hard, 39.9% Pull
2019 – 14.8% Barrel(16), 87.5 EV, 11.7 LA / 35.2% LD, 19.4% FB, 37.0% Hard, 31.5% Pull
Florence, “You live here?”, Mrs Jefferson, “Mhmm,” Florence, “Well, how come we overcame and nobody told me?”
What do we see here? He has barreled up almost as much as last year in 2/3 the time, putting him in the top 10% of the league at 14.8% that bodes well for his quality of contact. Strangely despite that his exit velo and hard contact are a tick down from last year. One thing that can explain that is he is pulling balls more than 8% less… he’s making good contact but 8% more are going oppo. That tells me his timing may be off or he’s sitting back too much on pitches rather than getting out in front of them. As a result, he’s getting 10% more Liners (likely oppo) instead of pulling those balls over the wall thus leading to a decreased launch angle. On to plate discipline.
Stat Line #3
2018 – 48.2% Zone, 76.8% ZSw, 77.1% Zcon, 41.0% 1stSw, 30.5% SwStr, 55.5% Sw, 88.2% MeatSw
2019 – 42.9% Zone, 72.9% ZSw, 74.8% Zcon, 36.2% 1stSw, 34.8% SwStr, 52.2% Sw, 77.8% MeatSw
Archie, “Everyone I like stays the hell away from me.”
He is seeing less pitches in the zone so far; pitchers are throwing him more junk. What’s not helpful is he has been swinging at less good pitches (Zone Swings, Zone Contact, and Meatball Swings all down) and missing more the ones he does swing at (Swinging Strikes up). Also, his fall behind rate 2.04 (pitcher counts over batter counts) is higher that last year’s 1.62. So it might not be entirely good that he’s laying off first pitches more. He’s having more trouble with breaking balls so far by .100 points, but at the same time he is punishing offspeed pitches more by same margin and +.180 SLG. So what is really going on here?
Stat Line #4 – The Splits!
April* 22 games – .321/.364/.543, .210 ISO, 1.11 GB/FB, 38.2% Hard, 45.5% Pull
May 22 games – .273/.329/.416, .156 ISO, 1.77 GB/FB, 32.1% Hard, 26.4% Pull
(*March and April)
Mr Jefferson, “If I paid you to think, you could cash your check at the penny arcade.”
AH HAH!!! There’s the real story. We’ve been chasing the data in the macro, but missed the micro. As you see can see, the first split shows a Dahl much the same as he was last year. The second split shows the Dahl after the oblique injury; more ground balls, pulling less, and overall a less dangerous hitter. This would suggest that he came back from his injury too soon and maybe should have rehabbed more. But, there’s hope! Hope I tell you! UPDATE: Over the last 2 weeks he’s hitting .378/.451/.556 and in this last week alone he’s .424/.486/.636 with 2 HR including Thursday’s explosion of 4-for-5, BB, HR and 2 RBI; he seems to be coming out of it now. Also, he hit 12 HRs in the 2nd half last year, so he may be just gearing up. Ready to move on up to that deluxe apartment in the sky!
More good news! His current xSLG is in the top 12% of the league, so going forward we should see better results from his contact. Channeling my inner Bill James, his xwOBACON is .502, thats good for top 10% in the league. “What the Weezy is that?” You say. That stands for Expected Weighted On-base Average on Contact, similar to the xSLG I showed you earlier but this does not factor in walks and strikeouts and removes defense from the equation. Tells you a bit more about his skill of contact. If you needed any more convincing here is a spray chart of all his hits if they were in Coors stadium dimensions; many of those doubles could have been home runs with a bit more lift. He’s not Archie Bunker, but really George Jefferson being held back by the man (and Bud Black). He just needs to spread his wings and fly, away from his racist neighbor. Brighter days are ahead for him, he might finally get his piece of the pie.