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Dodgers: Don’t Be Surprised to See Chris Taylor Decline



When the Dodgers traded away failed prospect Zach Lee to the Mariners before last season, most fans could not have cared less. No one on earth could have possibly predicted Taylor’s breakout campaign, not even himself. Fans were just happy to see the former 1st round draft flop Zach Lee finally leave. Who knew they would end up with one of the most productive players of 2017?

Taylor burst onto the big stage as soon as he received his early season recall from the minors. After hitting just two home runs in his entire career, Taylor crushed 21 longballs for Los Angeles. He also hit over 316 in his first full month with the team, ultimately finishing up at a 288 mark for 2017. That number, along with almost every other number he put up, eclipsed his career high by a wide margin.

Taylor’s value to the team was further magnified when they tried him out in the outfield. With a glut of talent around the diamond, the only real spot the team saw a need for him was in centerfield. Since then he has played the position quite well, as he now takes on the everyday role. All season long, Taylor was the spark to ignite the mighty Los Angeles offense. He was also a key part of their glorious postseason run,  taking home the Championship Series MVP with Justin Turner.

The real question though, is how long can this possibly last? Sometimes guys make small mechanical changes in their swing and it changes the course of their entire career. Or, it changes them for about a season before they go back to their old habits. As of Thursday night, Chris Taylor’s average exit velocity on balls in play is a touch below the league average. Certainly not where he was last year when he exploded on almost every pitch thrown his way.

The bottom line is that it’s not realistic to assume he’ll have another great year. There is always the hope that it will carry over, but it’s no sure thing. If he can continue to have success with his emphasis on lifting the ball more, then the Dodgers will thrive.

Here’s hoping that 2017 magic carries over.

 

 

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

Comments

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  1. While Brook appears bent on marginalizing and singling out one player who had an outstanding 2017 season, perhaps he should/could say the same about the entire Dodger team. Why so pessimistic Brook? The same argument you make for the decline of Chris Taylor could be applied to a host of other situations if you want to be negative. Take a look at how poorly the entire team is performing offensively so far, and much of what you say could be about them. No one gives more effort and gusto to the lineup than Taylor. No one knows the future but I’m betting he’ll do just fine.

  2. Lifting the ball. You mean upper cutting. Bad habit for someone who should be spraying the ball to all fields, especially the gaps. Bad habit for several Dodgers.

  3. Don’t usually comment but you are deeply depressing at a time when we should be uplifting our team your like an albatross. Get a clue sports editor/reporter whatever you think you are. We don’t need it after a poor start. Blame ain’t our gain.
    The GuitarSlinger

  4. Taylor is not a player who was a mediocre hitter in the minors, he was well above average (other than power) and he did quite well in his first call up to the Mariners in 2014. After his first season with Dodgers he worked all off season to rebuild his swing, including an increase to his launch angle, and continued to work hard this last off season. Avg exit velocity after 1 week — ALOL! I’m certain I can find a week last season where his exit velocity was horrible. IF Taylor struggles through first half of season then get back to us with your pessimistic article.

    • How about Bellinger, Seager, Puig, Forsythe, Kemp, Peterson and on and on and on. I know it’s only six games in but the offense sucks, the pitching sucks, the bullpen blows and the strategy is non-existent. Let’s keep trotting out Wilmer Font, a career minor-league pitcher and see how many losses he can chalk up.

  5. Let’s just stop making excuses for bad performance. The Astros played as long as the Dodgers last year and have played great during the Spring.
    They continue to win. We relied on way too many come-from-behind wins last year to rest on our performance this year. Some team took Spring Training seriously, while others used it as rest.

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