In 2016, with his time split between the Seattle Mariners, who drafted him in 2012, and the Dodgers who received him in a trade for pitcher Zach Lee, Taylor hit only .213 with one home run, two doubles and two triples. In the offseason and through spring training, he decided to change his swing, adding a leg kick, adding bat speed and overall changing his bat’s path.
Although he started the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City, all that hard work through the winter and spring paid off. So much so that when the Dodgers lost their original leadoff hitter Andrew Toles to an ACL injury, Taylor took over that role and never let it go. He finished the season with a .288/.354/.496/.850 slash line, 21 homers, 34 doubles, and five triples. In the playoffs, he hit three home runs, including the first pitch he saw in the World Series off Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros. He also had four doubles, a triple, and walked eleven times during the 2017 postseason. CT3 was also named Co-MVP of the NLCS along with third baseman Justin Turner.
Taylor, an infielder by trade, spent the time in Triple-A working on becoming an outfielder. Little did he know that he would spend most of the season in the outfield, starting in left, and then taking over full time in center when Joc Pederson was sent down to the minors to work on his own batting skills. He saw just over 800 innings in the outfield and committed only two errors. Not too bad for someone who had not really played there before the season started.
So with all this versatility, what lies ahead for Taylor in 2018? I suppose a lot depends on what other players on the Dodgers end up doing. Will Pederson improve his batting enough to retake centerfield? Left field seems like it will see a platoon between Kiké Hernandez and Andrew Toles, provided he comes back all the way from his ACL injury. Yasiel Puig will most certainly be patrolling right.
What about a move back to the infield? Justin Turner and Corey Seager will be at third and shortstop, respectively. The Dodgers just picked up the option on second baseman Logan Forsythe‘s contract. Cody Bellinger will most likely be the full time first baseman, and if he isn’t, if Adrian Gonzalez has one more good year left in him, will be another outfielder to add to the mix.
Center field, with some filling in at other spots as needed, seems to me to be the most likely position for Taylor next season. His bat has become too reliable to make him simply a platoon player, and a batting order works best when the 1-4 slots are always the same. This might deem Pederson a trade candidate, perhaps for a starting pitcher. I think it is a long shot, and a worst case scenario for Dodger fans, but Taylor himself could be deemed a trade candidate, a buy low, sell high deal for the Dodgers. Plenty of teams would want a player who can play so many positions on the field so well, and also handle the bat.
There’s a lot of offseason and spring training to go before the outfield situation sorts itself out for the Dodgers. Where do you think Taylor for the 2018 season?
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