With Michael Taylor now back with the Nationals , what is his role going to be with the team down the stretch?
Coming into the season, the expectations were high for Michael Taylor as the center fielder for the Nationals. However, 2016 has been a disappointing season for the 25-year-old outfielder. Taylor was called back up to the Washington Nationals yesterday after the team sent Lucas Giolito back to triple-A Syracuse.
Taylor was sent down to Syracuse twice during the month of July to get some playing time with Trea Turner and Ben Revere currently on the roster. However, Taylor struggled mightily at triple-A. In 31 games, he hit .205 with one home run, nine BRI’s, and struck out 33 times.
Just as he did at the Major League level, Taylor’s struggles continued at the leadoff spot as well. As the leadoff man at Syracuse, he hit .167 with one RBI and six walks in 30 games
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At the Major League level this season, Taylor has a slash line of .222/.274/.372 with seven home runs, 14 RBI’s, and 12 stolen bases in 15 chances. He is far from the player that hit 14 home runs a season ago and has shown good power hitting ability, despite the high strikeout totals.
Right now, Taylor is not going to get much playing time with Turner excelling at the leadoff spot and playing a good defensive center field. Also, Ben Revere has made some highlight reel catches in the outfield, which has somewhat made up for his .198 batting average over his last 96 at-bats.
Despite Taylor’s struggles this season, I think he has the opportunity to make an impact over the final month of the season. For one, he has the ability to play left field as the backup for Jayson Werth. This would allow more playing time for Clint Robinson at first base, if Ryan Zimmerman continues to struggle.
Another spot where Taylor could help the team is by bringing some speed off the bench as a pinch-runner late in games. With Stephen Drew still on the disabled list, the Nats also need another option off the bench to go with Chris Heisey or Robinson/Zimmerman. Taylor could be one of those players Dusty Baker can turn to if the team needs a home run late.
2016 has been a disappointing season for Taylor, to say the least. But, at the same time, Taylor has the opportunity to at least salvage something from this season. Last week, I saw a quote Baker said about Zimmerman that stuck out to me about how to handle the rest of the year:
"“I encouraged him to start his season all over,” Baker said. “Forget whatever has transpired in the past.” (h/t Mark Zuckerman, MASN Sports)"
While Taylor probably can’t fully turn around his season, he still could make a positive contribution to the Washington Nationals down the stretch. It will be interesting to watch how Baker utilizes Taylor going forward