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.