The Dodgers offense struggled for the better part of the first two months of the season. Among the underperformers were Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor, two key members of last season’s World Series run.
The Dodgers World Series run last season was long overdue but at the same time, the run came with some surprises. One of the surprises was Chris Taylor who had a Justin Turner like breakout to go from a light-hitting utility man to the starting center fielder for the National League champions. Taylor finished last season with a .288 average, 21 home runs, and 72 RBI’s while leading off for most of the regular season and postseason.
This season Chris Taylor got off to a slow start that had many wondering if last season was a fluke. In April, Taylor hit .235 with a .271 on-base percentage and led the Dodgers with thirty-one strikeouts. Most of his strikeouts came looking as for some reason Taylor struggled to pull the trigger in the first month of the season. Like Taylor, Yasiel Puig also struggled mightily in the first month of the season as he hit just .215 with no home runs and an OPS of .549. Puig did bang himself up in the first-month playing in his typical all-out fashion so there is a chance he may have been affected more than he let on.
After their slow starts to begin the season, Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor have been surging along with the Dodgers offense. Here are Puig and Taylor’s stat lines for the past few weeks:
Last 7 games:
Taylor: 320 AVG, 379 OBP, 640 SLG %
Puig: 440 AVG, 481 OBP, 680 SLG %
Last 14 games:
Taylor: 292 AVG, 426 OBP, 667 SLG %
Puig: 378 AVG, 451 OBP, 733 SLG %
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One of the biggest improvements that Puig and Taylor have seen in the last two weeks has been their power output. Puig has four home runs in the last fifteen games and Chris Taylor has three home runs which account for nearly half of his season home run total. Yasiel has done a great job with his plate discipline over the last month as he struck out only twelve times in May after striking out only sixteen times in April. Puig’s plate discipline is adding a new dimension to his game as the textbook method of pitching to him has been sliders low and outside to strike him out.
The one area that Puig and Taylor still need to show improvement in is their production against left-handed pitching. Taylor is only batting .233 against lefties with two home runs and Puig is only hitting .224 against southpaws with only one of his six home runs. It wasn’t too long ago that the Dodgers struggled to hit lefties and if Puig and Taylor can hit better against them then the Dodgers offense will really be dangerous.
With nearly two-thirds of the season left, there is no telling what kind of numbers Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig will finish with this season but both appear to have shaken off their early-season struggles. For Yasiel Puig he simply needs to stay healthy. Puig plays the game as hard as anyone and isn’t afraid to take on outfield walls which takes a toll on his body. The Dodgers need to make sure to give Puig days off every week to keep him fresh and playing like the wild horse that he is nicknamed to be.
For Chris Taylor, he has had to settle in at shortstop after Corey Seager went down for the season so there is the possibility that he became too caught up with making the defensive transition and his offense suffered. Whatever it was, Chris Taylor has looked more like his 2017 version these last few weeks and if he can keep it up the Dodgers leadoff woes will be solved for good. The Dodgers offense has been much better lately, even coming back from a deficit all three games this weekend in Colorado and Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig are a big reason for the offense’s revival.