What Happened In 2017: Underwent an incredible transformation to become a crucial part of the Dodger starting lineup.
It seems somewhat unbelievable now that Chris Taylor began the 2017 season in Triple-A, given how invaluable he ended up being to the Dodgers. An excellent Spring Training evidently wasn’t enough to earn him a spot on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, as he spent the first 10 games of the season with Oklahoma City.
Once Taylor got called up to the Majors, though, he’d stay there for the remainder of the season. On April 19, his first Major League game of the year, Taylor announced his presence by going 2-for-3 with a run scored. Although Taylor made just six starts in April, he would soon become a regular part of the Dodgers’ lineup, making 125 starts on the year.
Taylor served solely as an infielder for most of his first two months with the Dodgers, despite the fact that he’d gotten considerable outfield playing time both in Spring Training and with OKC prior to his callup. But when Andrew Toles went down with a season-ending ACL tear in May, the Dodgers had a sudden need for Taylor’s outfield services, one which he filled ably, alternating between left and center field throughout the rest of 2017.
Taylor’s transition from excellent infielder to capable outfielder was impressive, but even more impressive was how vastly he improved as a hitter. Across parts of three previous MLB seasons, Taylor had an OPS of .598, with just one home run. A more patient approach at the plate and a retooled swing propelled Taylor to an .850 OPS in 2017, with a comparatively whopping 21 dingers (three of which were grand slams). His ability to reach base paired with his speed made him a nearly ideal leadoff hitter, too, something the Dodgers had sought for some time.
July was Taylor’s best month, during which he slashed .394/.412/.660 and recorded 16 extra base hits (10 doubles, three triples and three home runs, including one of his grand slams). His efforts earned him the title of Dodgers Player Of The Month:
Taylor’s success continued into the postseason, and he was named co-MVP in the National League Championship Series (an honor he shared with Justin Turner). He had a total of 15 hits and 11 walks (against 10 strikeouts) in his 71 playoff plate appearances. Three of Taylor’s 15 hits were home runs.
Taylor’s biggest game was probably Game 3 of the NLCS, in which he drove in two of the Dodgers’ six runs with a home run and a triple.
2018 Status: Pre-arb eligible. Taylor figures to be a key part of the Dodgers’ outfield equation.