One of the most disappointing parts of the season for Dodgers fans has been Chris Taylor’s production at the plate. The guy that seemingly came out of nowhere to destroy opposing pitching two years ago is suddenly nowhere to be found. With 15 percent the season already completed, fans are starting to wonder when he will find that swing again. Dave Roberts seems to believe it is just around the corner and will continue to get him at-bats.
Asked #Dodgers Dave Roberts if Chris Taylor continues to struggle, can it get to a point where Joc Pederson (or Alex Verdugo) is a better option even vs LHP?
"Yeah. Can it, is it possible? Certainly. This is not, for me, enough runway for Chris based on what he's done for us …
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 24, 2019
Let’s just be real about Taylor’s numbers for a minute, setting aside our love and adoration for him. He’s not striking out any more than he did last year, but he’s also not striking out any less. Taylor has struck out in about 28-29 percent of plate appearances over the last two years, and I don’t see that changing. The real concern in his numbers lies in how often he is squaring up balls.
Taylor is barreling roughly 2.6% of pitches, and his exit velocity is at a career low. So he’s strikeout out a lot now and he’s also not hitting the ball hard. Interestingly enough, his launch angle is also down. The Dodgers brought over Taylor’s hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc as the team hitting coach, and it seems to have had a reverse effect. A guy who preaches the launch angle in his approach, you would expect Taylor to have better results.
A deeper dive into Taylor’s numbers gives me even less confidence that he will come out of this slump. He is seeing almost 8 percent more fastballs than he did last year, but his whiff percentage has also gone up on the heater. A high whiff percentage on breaking balls and offspeed pitches is expected, but you cannot expect big league success if you can’t hit a fastball.
Taylor is currently slashing .172/.262/.259 on the year.
I guess if Alex Verdugo was not waiting for his chance to be an everyday player, I could see Taylor getting more starts. But that has not been the case in 2019. Verdugo is hitting the cover off of the ball and continues to do so in a limited role. Verdugo has played in fewer games and somehow been awarded fewer at-bats than Chris Taylor, despite hitting 352 with four home runs and destroying left-handed pitching.
It does not make sense risking games just to try and get his swing back at this point. That can be worked out, but not in these games that will eventually matter down the line.
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