When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded pitching prospect Zach Lee to the Seattle Mariners in June 2016 they could not have envisioned how fruitful the deal would become. Taylor had positive moments last season and has since emerged as a key contributor for the Dodgers.
A versatile infielder for his entire career, Taylor began growing comfortable with playing the outfield during Spring Training. That eventually became his ticket to cementing an everyday role with the Dodgers.
Beyond proving to be a super utility man in the field, the 26-year-old is producing at a career level at the plate. Taylor recently said a focus was placed on improving his slugging but this year’s home run totals are still a surprise, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“That was the goal coming into the year: I wanted to hit for more power, I wanted to drive the ball,” Taylor said. “But if you would have told me I would have 15 homers at this point, I would have been shocked.”
Taylor hit his 16th home run of the season in Thursday’s win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Overall, he’s batting .308/.375/.547 with 26 doubles, four triples and 55 RBI.
Taylor leads the Dodgers in triples, and ranks fourth on the team with a .922 on-base plus slugging percentage and in home runs. The bulk of his production has come as the leadoff hitter, which was a question mark for the Dodgers entering the season.
Taylor entered the year with 17 extra-base hits (13 doubles, three triples, one home run) in 120 games over parts of three seasons with the Mariners and Dodgers. He’s given some credit to Justin Turner for the uptick in production as the two worked out together during the offseason.
Turner has gone through a similar transition in his career, developing into a power threat with the Dodgers after mediocre seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets.