Why Dodgers Fans Need To Pay More Attention To Chris Taylor

Photo Credit: Patrick Breen on Twitter (@pjbreenphoto)

Chris Taylor always has a flair for the dramatic. For a guy that needs to make show-stopping plays in order to get the recognition he deserves – he is constantly delivering when it matters most. A little over a week ago, he made a walk-off defensive play on the road vs. the Padres. With the Dodgers clinging to a 7-6 lead and closer Kenley Jansen in trouble with runners at the corners and one out, Padres third baseman Manny Machado flew one to left field. Taylor lined it up perfectly, made the catch, and uncorked a 93 MPH fastball to the plate to nab a speedy Trent Grisham and end the game.

The Dodgers have a stacked lineup filled with stars and fan favorites, so the attention they receive is earned. However, it’s the supporting cast (who matter as much, if not more) who don’t get the same acknowledgment on a championship-contending team.

With MVPs like Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger — along with All-Stars Justin Turner and Corey Seager — it’s easy for guys like super-utility player Chris Taylor to get lost in the shuffle. Regardless, every team needs that one player that always seems to get the job done to help carry the offensive load.

For the Dodgers, that player is Taylor. He joined the team in 2016 via a trade with the Seattle Mariners for pitcher Zach Lee. Since he’s been with the Dodgers, he’s surprised a lot of people and produced in key moments like his first major league home run; a grand slam against the Arizona Diamondbacks in July of 2016. 

Not only does Taylor come through at the plate, but he delivers on the field as a versatile defender. He can play virtually anywhere on the diamond, which can help a team tremendously when a player goes down. For example, in 2018, when Corey Seager went down and needed Tommy John surgery, Taylor was able to man shortstop in Seager’s absence. Taylor came through at the plate too, batting .254 with a .331 OBP and an OPS+ of 110, which was slightly above league average. However, he did lead the league in strikeouts that season with 178 – a glaring issue for him throughout his career. In 2019, he was able to cut down his strikeouts to 115 and raise his overall numbers with a .262 batting average, a .333 OBP, and an OPS+ of 107.

Taylor also played a big part in the postseason for the Dodgers. In the 2017 NLCS vs. the Chicago Cubs, he earned Co-MVP honors (along with Justin Turner) hitting .316 (6-19), with two home runs, a double, a triple, three RBI and an OPS of 1.248.

 

He seems to thrive when the games matter most because in the NLCS the following year vs. the Milwaukee Brewers, his slash line was .364/.462/.500, but it was arguably his defense that helped the Dodgers the most en route to their second consecutive World Series appearance. With the Dodgers need for depth, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to get more opportunities to continue his success in the postseason for everyone to watch.

Fast forward to 2020, a season like no other, and Chris Taylor has 17 hits in 59 at-bats, two doubles, a triple, a home run, and eight RBI. With runs coming at a premium this year, and a shortened season, utility players have become vital for every team. While no one has an exact explanation as to why some of the hottest stars have gone cold to open up the season, every run generated by whichever player has value is critical, and Chris Taylor has eight runs scored. In just 74 plate appearances, he’s above league average in OBP at .392 and has an OPS+ of 122, which is 22 points over the league average. In his last seven games,  he’s been swinging a hot bat hitting .350, slugging .450 and a .885 OPS.

Taylor is used to filling in at several positions, and this year is no different. So far this season, Chris Taylor has played 84.2 innings at shortstop, 35 innings in left field, and 17.1 innings at second base, all while having a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at each position. This shows that not only can he play multiple positions, but he can field them all very well.

The Dodgers have so many star players in their lineup that Taylor may get overlooked as a part-time player, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t provide value to the team. The Dodgers and Andrew Friedman should be commended for picking him up and helping him become a crucial part of this team.

Jacob Cisneros covers the Dodgers for Dodgers-LowDown and covers the Angels for HaloHangout. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jacobcisneros42