Michael Taylor continued his breakout season for the Washington Nationals this week, leading to him being named District on Deck’s player of the week.
Washington Nationals outfielder Michael Taylor has received several extended opportunities for regular playing time in the past due to injuries to various outfielders, but he has always disappointed. That is, until this year. After the Nats lost Adam Eaton for the season, Taylor has stepped in and has been an extremely pleasant surprise.
In 61 games, Taylor has hit .273 and has clubbed ten homers. That’s not bad production from an eight-hole hitter. Most eight-hole hitters are near automatic outs, but Taylor is a different story, which speaks to the depth of this potent Nats lineup.
In addition to performing well at the plate, Taylor has played gold glove-caliber defense in the outfield. He has showcased his outstanding athleticism on countless plays this season, whether it’s using his speed to track down a ball or using his jumping ability to make a catch at the wall or some combination of the two.
Taylor has also occasionally faced a challenge in the outfield recently. With Jayson Werth injured, Adam Lind has seen some time in left field. Lind is best served as a designated hitter, and is only in the lineup for his bat. He is unable to cover much ground in the outfield, and Taylor is forced to cover even more ground than normal with Lind in left. Taylor has handled this flawlessly and has continued to play lock-down defense in center field.
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He continued his excellent season this week, despite playing through an undisclosed injury before eventually getting a few games off. The Nats have been oddly secretive about the injury, but he said he was pretty banged up.
By telling the team about his injury, Taylor displayed lots of maturity. Some players attempt to play through minor injuries and then they become more severe and lead to extensive DL stints. Just look at Koda Glover. He tweaked his back in the shower, but didn’t tell the Nats. Then, he pitched that day and hurt his back a lot worse. Now the Nats are without their closer for a while. By telling the Nats about his injury, Taylor was able to get a few days off and receive treatment and is now back in the lineup.
Taylor also led the Nats in quite a few offensive statistical categories. He played in five games and led the team in doubles (three), homers (two), batting average (.412), slugging percentage (.941), total bases (16), and extra base hits (five).
Taylor’s best game of the week came on Saturday against the Reds. The Nats scored 18 runs on 19 hits so there was offense aplenty, but Taylor managed to stand out. He went 4-for-5 with two homers, 11 total bases, three RBI’s, and four runs scored.
In this game alone, he managed to raise his batting average 13 points, his on-base percentage 12 points, and his slugging percentage 42 points. That’s pretty incredible, especially at this point in the season.
To go along with his phenomenal day at the plate, Taylor managed to make an impact in the outfield. He made several plays, but his most impressive was an incredible leaping catch at the wall. According to Statcast, he ran 89 feet to get to the ball before perfectly timing his jump into the wall and holding on for the catch. You can go ahead and add this play to Taylor’s gold glove resume. Although he’s not a big-name outfielder, he should garner some consideration in the gold glove conversation.
After starting the season on the bench, Taylor has transformed into one of the most exciting players to watch and has been a consistent contributor from the eight-hole. If he keeps this up, he can potentially earn himself an everyday role for next season.