The “Contender November” series for the Detroit Tigers continues with a look at one of the most versatile players in Major League Baseball in Chris Taylor.
The Detroit Tigers last season under manager AJ Hinch embraced players who could multiple players. While some of it was by necessity due to perhaps Hinch trying to figure out what he was working with, Tigers fans witness Jonathan Schoop get some time at first base, Harold Castro in centerfield, and even Willi Castro in left, there is one player who played all three outfield positions and every infield position minus first base in Chris Taylor.
The right-handed hitting Taylor has been a big cog in the Dodgers’ lineup since 2017 with an impressive slash line in the National League Championship Series with .350/.447/ .675 with an OPS of 1.122 in 94 plate appearances. He earned his first All-Star appearance in 2021 and has produced back-to-back 4 WAR seasons in his first two years in a Dodgers uniform after coming up from Seattle in a trade for right-handed pitcher Zach Lee.
Is Chris Taylor a fit in a Detroit Tigers uniform?
Yes and no. There are a few factors for each.
Yes because he fit multiple positions across the field as mentioned above with some pop in his bat as he has had 20 or more home runs in two out of five seasons and has hit 17 and 12. In 2020, he hit 8 home runs in 214 plate appearances. His best position by the defensive metrics is at second base, which had him at 2 DFS (Defensive Runs Saved). He played 294 innings in 2021 at second, the second most of any of the positions he has played.
At shortstop, a position of critical need for the Tigers, he put up a 0 DFS but in centerfield where he played the most, he was -4. The Tigers as a collective were -20 and put up the same number as Akil Baddoo.
At the plate, strikeouts have always been an issue, leading the league in that category in 2018. His rate has been relatively high with this season at 28% but his walk rate has picked up, 11.4% but when you are putting up a relatively high WAR (3.1 FWAR. 2.6 BWAR), you can look past that considering every season, strikeouts have picked up across the league.
What will Chris Taylor cost the Detroit Tigers?
Several teams have been rumored to have been interested in Taylor, including the Giants and the Rangers. According to Jorge Castillo of the LA Times, he has the ability to command a three or four-year deal.
His post-season experience and production there would be a welcomed sight but as the December 1st deadline lies ahead, the priority is still a shortstop and while Taylor can play the position, his value to fill the multiple positions is a bigger upside.