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Baseball Daily Dose

Deeper Dive: Chris Taylor Back to the Dodgers

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: January 13, 2022, 2:04 pm ET

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The Dodgers lost Corey Seager and Max Scherzer in free agency, but they were able to re-sign utilityman extraordinaire Chris Taylor to a four-year, $60 million contract just before the lockout began.

The Dodgers have made three trips to the World Series – winning one – and won the National League West four of the five full years Taylor has been with the club (the only time they didn’t win the division was last year when they finished second despite 106 wins). Taylor didn’t lead the team in WAR any of those years, but there’s no disputing he’s been one of the Dodgers’ most valuable players during that stretch.

The team obviously agreed, hence the $60 million deal.

Taylor is coming off his first All-Star Game appearance, having put up a .254/.344/.438 batting line with 20 home runs, 73 RBI, 13 stolen bases and 92 runs. He made starts at six different positions and at least 20 appearances in four spots.

In 5x5 Roto, Taylor was a top-15 second baseman, shortstop and third baseman and a top-25 outfielder. Especially in a year which saw so many teams hit hard by injury, the versatile 31-year-old was an incredibly valuable piece to have on your roster.

Taylor did tail off as the season progressed, hitting just .187/.271/.293 with a 34.5 percent strikeout rate over the final two months. However, he rebounded big in the postseason, clubbing a walk-off homer against the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Game and later swatting three long balls in NLCS Game 5. All told, he had a 1.202 OPS in 11 playoff contests.

Taylor has never hit the ball particularly hard, at least not on a consistent basis. His average exit velocity has never reached 89 mph, and last year he ranked in the 29th percentile with an 88.2 mph mark. Average to below-average contact combined with lots of strikeouts means Taylor has needed BABIP help to hit for a passable average, and thankfully that’s been the case as his has never dipped below .337. At this point, it’s probably safe to say it’s a skill of his.

He used to be a pretty aggressive hitter, but Taylor has begun to increase his selectivity, boasting a nice 11.2 percent walk rate since the start of 2020. An on-base percentage of .350 during that time would theoretically make him a good candidate to bat at or near the top of the order… if he were on a team other than the Dodgers, anyway. Taylor’s .344 OBP in 2021, while good, was the second-worst among the club’s projected regulars for 2022, ahead of only Cody Bellinger.

Taylor has been prone to streakiness, with his career 27.5 percent strikeout rate obviously being a major reason why that’s the case. Still, his overall numbers as a Dodger haven’t fluctuated much year to year, and he’s been very durable with just one trip to the injured list. Perhaps that will start to change as he creeps into his mid-30s, but heading into 2022 he would appear a better bet than most to stay healthy.

Because he’s always consistently ranked very well in terms of sprint speed and has been a pretty efficient base stealer – particularly in 2021 when he swiped 13 bags in 14 attempts – it would be nice for fantasy purposes to see Taylor run more. I wouldn’t count on it happening, though. The Dodgers aren’t a team that runs much, ranking 20th in baseball in steals since 2017.

He’s not a big standout in any one area and he doesn’t have a set position, which means Taylor has the type of profile that can be overlooked in fantasy. However, if you used a draft pick on him any of the last five years, you probably didn’t come away disappointed. Taylor currently has an ADP of 145 in NFBC drafts, which seems very reasonable.

Something else to consider with Taylor is what his re-signing means for Gavin Lux. On paper, second base would seem at the moment to be the position Taylor would be in line to play the most. You could also say the same for Lux.

However, Taylor’s versatility and the likely implementation of the designated hitter in the NL should allow manager Dave Roberts to pencil Lux into his lineup plenty. That’s before factoring in Max Muncy’s UCL injury. I like Lux as a late-round play even though he might not technically have a starting spot right now. His NFBC ADP sits at 209.

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Quick Hits: According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Mets have recently been denied permission to speak to Padres quality control coach Ryan Flaherty and Giants pitching coach Andrew Bailey about their bench coach vacancy. Reds game planning and outfield coach Jeff Pickler has also withdrawn his name from consideration, per Rosenthal’s colleague, C. Trent Rosecrans. The Mets will continue to seek a right-hand man for new manager Buck Showalter, and it’s clear that they’d prefer someone who’s younger and analytically-inclined.

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.