Dodgers: Chris Taylor’s 2017 Season Grade

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Chris Taylor
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 31: Chris Taylor /

Arguably the biggest surprise and one of the Dodgers greatest gifts was the success story of Chris Taylor in 2017. It’s difficult to grade someone like Taylor because there is no standard to compare his performance with. Do we see him as an improved version of his former-self or a brand new player?

Chris Taylor was acquired through a trade barely anyone remembered until it made headlines this year. Dodger fans have heard this repeated nonstop during the postseason, but Chris Taylor his all of three home runs in his career before 2017. He hit 21 in the regular season and then three more in the postseason.

The power numbers alone are impressive, but Taylor was also able to hit the ball consistently with a .288 average. It’s one thing for a breakout hitter to hit for a lot of power, but to hit the ball consistently after playing way more than they are used to is probably his biggest accomplishment at the plate. Oh, let’s also mention he stole a team-leading 17 bases.

Power, consistency, and speed. What more can you ask for from a leadoff hitter? The one criticism of Taylor’s approach at the plate this season was his tendency to be overaggressive occasionally. Taylor’s ability to square up the first pitch of the game has proven to be lethal, however, it’s important for a leadoff hitter to not become predictable.

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This is especially the case for when he’s struggling. Pitcher’s not knowing if Taylor will swing or not at the first pitch provides an edge to spark an offense that feasts off walks. Luckily, Taylor can escape falling into a hole in the count with his ability to foul off pitches and extend at-bats. This was extremely valuable for the Dodgers.

Defensively, Taylor was equally impressive. He played 22 games at second, 8 at third, 14 at shortstop, 48 in left, and 49 in center field. Despite originally coming up as a middle infielder, he’s made eight of his 11 errors playing short and second. In a season full of surprises, Taylor’s ability to adjust to becoming the Dodgers full-time center fielder is definitely one of the biggest ones. The one thing to keep an eye on Taylor in the outfield is if his range factor goes up.

In an already amazing season, Taylor’s been in the middle of some of the team’s biggest moments as well. He’s hit a couple of grand slams, clutch game-tiers, and game-winners. But his biggest moment came on the biggest stage.

In Game 1 of the World Series, Taylor launched Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch deep into the left field pavilion. Though the Dodgers lost the lead and the series, that home run shook the nerves off the franchise that hadn’t been to the Fall Classic in 29 years. It allowed the Dodgers to take Game 1 eventually, 3-1.

Taylor’s postseason was overall solid. It was up and down for a while, but he walked more than he struck out and had decent at-bats. He delivered some key hits both at the beginning and end of games. His defense also held up, with the exception to his diving for an uncatchable ball that could’ve been disastrous. He was saved by the bill of his cap.

Next: Logan Forsythe's 2017 Season Grade

2017 was magical, full of unexpected success (Taylor’s performance one of them). However, 2018 is the year. The Dodgers have all the pieces, starting with their leadoff hitter. As a former leadoff hitter and outfielder myself, I appreciate the impact knowing who will spark the offense has. Dave Roberts (also a former leadoff hitter and outfielder) does too.

Where Taylor will play is the question. Joc Pederson’s successful World Series, the imminent return of Andrew Toles, and if Cody Bellinger will move to the outfield all factor into Taylor’s position. If Dave Roberts wants to keep Taylor as the everyday center fielder, history has proven he will get better with experience. Taylor’s versatility, ferocity, consistency, and success on all fronts of the game give him a well-deserved A+.