Dodgers’ Chris Taylor is a regular guy who doesn’t mind his irregular role

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor fields a grounder during a spring training baseball practice Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Dodgers 2nd baseman Chris Taylor fields a grounder throughout a spring training practice on Feb. 23, in Phoenix. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Chris Taylor plays as much as a major league routine, having actually begun 393 of 546 video games for the Dodgers because 2017. He’s paid like a routine, having actually signed a one-year, $7.8-million handle February.

The only thing missing out on is the title of routine, a classification the extremely energy male believed he may get this winter season when the second-base job appeared to open in the wake of Kiké Hernández’s free-agent departure.

However Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts made it clear Wednesday that Gavin Lux will open the season as the main 2nd baseman, stating the extremely promoted 23-year-old would be “getting a good runway to play regularly” at the position.

That news came as neither a surprise nor dissatisfaction to Taylor, who is material with his plug-and-play function as long as the Dodgers continue to press his “play” button.

“The most important thing to me is playing — if I’m on the field, I’m happy,” Taylor stated prior to Thursday night’s exhibit versus the Chicago Cubs at Camelback Cattle Ranch.

“Whether I’m playing second or shortstop or outfield every day or if I’m playing all of those, I just want to be on the field as much as I can. That’s been part of my value, playing all over, so I understand why they’d want me to stay in that role.”

Taylor has actually begun video games at shortstop, 2nd base, 3rd base and all 3 outfield areas in 5 seasons with the Dodgers, the bulk of his action coming at shortstop, left field and center field.

He has actually invested long extends in one area filling in for hurt beginners, most just recently for center fielder AJ Pollock in 2019 and shortstop Corey Seager in 2018. When he came to camp this spring, Roberts advised Taylor to take more grounders at 3rd base, a position where he has actually made just 9 profession starts.

“It’s more of a reactionary position,” stated Taylor, who was slowed by neck tightness prior to playing in his very first video game Wednesday. “You don’t have as much time to think or read the hops. You have to make a split-second decision off the bat to come get it or wait back on it. It’s definitely gonna take some reps.”

Taylor, 30, does not play Gold Glove-caliber defense at any one area however is more than sufficient at all of them, his play enhancing as he welcomed his function.

“Early on, it was easy to fall into the trap that you just want to be adequate,” Taylor stated. “When you’re playing multiple positions, especially a spot you haven’t played a ton of, it’s easy to tell yourself, ‘OK, don’t make any mistakes. Just do enough to make the routine play.’

“I think what I’ve learned is if you try to take it to the next level and try to be great everywhere, that’s a better mind-set.”

Taylor might be a travelling protector, however his bat has actually been a continuous in powerful lineups that have actually assisted the Dodgers reach 3 of the previous 4 World Series and win their very first champion because 1988 when they beat Tampa Bay in a six-game World Series last October.

Taylor has actually a .238 average, .761 on-base-plus-slugging portion, 5 homers and 13 RBIs in 51 profession championship game. He began all 6 World Series video games last season and was called most important gamer of the 2017 National League Champion Series versus the Cubs.

Taylor struck .270 with 8 homers and 32 RBIs in 56 video games in 2020, his production in a pandemic-shortened 60-game season equaling his breakout 2017, when he struck .288 with 21 homers, 72 RBIs and 85 runs in 140 video games.

The distinction, Taylor stated, was enhanced plate discipline. Taylor started out 142 times in 2017 and a league-high 178 times in 2018, however he had a career-low 25.7% strikeout rate and a career-high 12.2% walk rate in 2020.

According to innovative metrics, Taylor had a career-high 45.5% hard-hit rate and swung at just 21.3% of pitches outside the strike zone, a career-low.

“I made some mechanical adjustments that slowed the ball down a little bit and gave me a little more time to see the ball,” Taylor stated. “When you’re not late on fastballs and not having to cheat to catch up to velocity, you’re gonna chase fewer off-speed pitches out of the zone.

“That’s the thing with a baseball swing, it’s constantly changing, whether you want it to or not.”

Just Like Taylor, a male who is continuously on the relocation however stays a component in the lineup, no matter his title or function.

“I like everything about him, the way he competes in the batter’s box against left-handers and right-handers, his baserunning, defense,” Roberts stated. “He’s just a huge asset.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.