The 2017 season saw unexpected contributions from a wide range of players for the Los Angeles Dodgers, including Chris Taylor, who enjoyed a breakout campaign on both sides of the ball after beginning the year with Triple-Oklahoma City.
Taylor, previously known as a glove-first infielder, expanded his role by learning how to play center field on the fly during Spring Training. He unexpectedly thrived offensively as well, after adjusting his mechanics from the advice of teammate Justin Turner, and eventually established himself as the club’s leadoff hitter.
In 568 plate appearances, Taylor posted career highs in nearly every statistical category, including home runs (21), RBI (72) and on-base plus slugging (.850). All-in-all, he totaled nearly five WAR, per Baseball-Reference’s calculations, in his first full season with an increased workload.
During an appearance on the Petros and Money Show on AM 570 L.A. Sports Radio, Taylor said he expects the Dodgers to once again receive contributions from several players, as was the case last season:
“I think everybody is kind of excited for a fresh start. We’ve got a few new guys, I feel like every year we have new guys step in a really contribute and I expect more of the same this year. It’s a new year and we understand that and I think we’re just all excited to get out there and get going.”
In addition to Taylor, the Dodgers were pleasantly surprised by first baseman Cody Bellinger, who opened up the season with Oklahoma City as the organization’s top prospect. He was called up in late April and never looked back from there, leading the club in home runs and giving the lineup a much-needed power surge.
Former Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow, who signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Cubs this offseason, took a similar path as well, and eventually emerged as the bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.
Heading into the 2018 season, the next round of players that could impact the Dodgers are a pair of top prospects in right-hander Walker Buehler and outfielder Alex Verdugo. Both players made their MLB debuts last September and may open up the season in Los Angeles depending on how Spring Training plays out.