Michael A. Taylor will turn 25 years old this week, and he is turning heads in Florida as opposing players have watched and turned their heads to see MAT bombs leave the stadium 3 times so far this Spring. While those home runs might be impressive to lead the Nationals this Spring, his stat-line with a .484 Batting Average would freeze Ted Williams head without cryogenics.
Dusty Baker has said that Michael A. Taylor will see “a lot of playing time” and also gave a basketball analogy to say MAT is like his “6th man” which is a key man off the bench, and a player who could start on almost any other team. Sometimes the 6th man becomes the starter like James Harden (the beard of the Houston Rockets) and Jamal Crawford who were both 6th Man of the Year Award winners. In fact Jamal Crawford won the award twice!
You can expect Jayson Werth to start on April 4th for Opening Day this year, but there are not any guarantees that say Werth will be the primary starter if he doesn’t prove to be the best leftfielder on this Washington Nationals team, and we anticipate Ben Revere will get some rest days when lefties are on the mound as we’ve written before that Dusty will platoon at the right time.
How much stock can we put in Michael A. Taylor’s Spring Training statline? This is the same player who has a career slash of .227/.282/.358/.640 and a 31.6% K rate. In fairness, Taylor’s strength with the bat is that he has an excellent .304/.379/.478/.857 career RISP slash.
Some think Michael A. Taylor just hits better in the clutch; however, that isn’t conclusive as a higher RISP isn’t synonymous with clutch. Some batters hit better when pitchers are toeing the rubber out of the stretch versus the windup. Taylor slashes .205/.260/.298/.558 with bases empty. There is a large divide here.
In this photo (below), Dusty early in training camp was giving one-on-one instruction to Michael A. Taylor as has Jacque Jones. Rick Schu keeps working on the shorter path to the ball mechanics and also that oppo inside-out swing for balls on the outer half of the plate, and the results this Spring have been good. As we’ve discussed, all players in this camp are getting more coaching than they have in the past and for many players like Taylor, the results are clear.
Dusty Baker has discussed that MAT could hit leadoff, and the issue there is nobody hits more with bases empty than the leadoff man. In 139 plate appearances leading off an inning, MAT slashes .160/.209/.252/.461
If Michael A. Taylor drank the magic potion and is a changed man, we will see it over a longer period. Taylor’s stats during Spring Training are encouraging, but it’s not necessarily indicative of what we will see in the 2016 regular season. If you recall that in Spring Training of 2015, Michael A. Taylor was also a shining star hitting 4 HRs and slashing .323/.343/.646/.989
Encouraging! High Five to MAT and an early 25th Happy Birthday wishes!