Chris Taylor played all over the diamond again for the Dodgers in 2018. Even with a slightly down year compared to last year’s numbers, Taylor turned in a solid season as a super utility.
What went right
Making starts at four different positions, Taylor proved he was worthy of a second consecutive year with significant playing time. He made 73 starts at shortstop in the absence of Corey Seager and 50 more in the outfield.
Even with his overall slash line taking a dip, Taylor still hit 17 home runs and had career highs in doubles (35), triples (8) and walks (55). His 36 multi-hit games ranked second behind Cody Bellinger (41).
He batted .345/.433/.586 with three home runs in the month of September and then hit .282 (11-for-39) in 15 postseason games.
What went wrong
There was plenty that went wrong on the year for Taylor to fight through. The Dodgers had planned to play him primarily in center as part of a platoon when the season began, but quickly changed when Seager went down a month into the season.
Striking out was the norm for the 27-year-old, much like the rest of the league. Taylor struck out a team-high 178 times in 2018, 27 more than the second most (Bellinger). 129 of those strikeouts came against right-handed pitching in 390 plate appearances (33%).
Despite a .388 BAbip against right-handers, the strikeouts led to him hitting just .265/.333/.453.
The thing Taylor was so good at in 2017, hitting left-handers was not a strong suit for him in 2018. His OPS dropped from .837 to .754 against southpaws. Taylor didn’t get into a groove until September, which was needed at the time.
Stats: 136-for-536, .254/.331/.444, .775 OPS, 110 OPS+, 17 HR, 35 doubles, 8 triples, 178 strikeouts, 55 walks, 9 SB, 63 RBI, 85 runs
Game of the year
There are a couple big moments on the season for Taylor. As the bat came alive in September, Taylor provided a walk-off homer in the 10th inning back on September 18 over Colorado.
The blast meant a 1.5-game lead in the division with 10 games to go in a month-long battle for first with the Rockies. A loss in that game could’ve meant an end to the Dodgers streak of NL West titles.
Perhaps the shining moment in Taylor’s season came in Game 7 of the NLCS in Milwaukee. With a 2-1 lead in favor of Los Angeles with two out in the fifth, Christian Yelich connected with what looked like a game-tying hit to the left field gap.
But Taylor ran it down to make a spectacular play that will be part of Dodger highlight packages for years to come.
Taylor has three years and 37 days of major league service time and is in his first year of arbitration eligibility.