With Opening Day just a few weeks away, the Washington Nationals starting outfield appears set in stone. The veteran Jayson Werth will man left field. The acquired Adam Eaton will man center field, and lifelong National Bryce Harper will start in right field; however, could a potential resurgence from Michael Taylor get the 25-year old outfielder in the starting lineup mid-season?
Potential Resurgence From Michael Taylor Could Land Him In The Nationals Starting Lineup
Michael Taylor’s Resume
When he came on the scene in 2014, outfielder Michael Taylor got a limited amount of at bats. Appearing at the plate just 37 times, Taylor hit just .205, hitting one home run and driving in five runs; however, Taylor was able to grasp more at bats and consistency in 2015.
Due to the fact that outfielders Werth and Denard Span missed some time with injuries, Taylor was given the chance to play a starter’s role – a role which he progressed in.
Appearing in 138 games, Taylor was able to step in the batter’s box 472 times. In those at bats, he hit just .229, but Taylor was able to hit 14 home runs and drive in 63 runs. Taylor also made an impact in the field and on the base paths.
Taylor’s athleticism and quickness help him play at an above average level in the outfield. That quickness allows him to stop balls from getting to the wall, and also not allowing them to drop. In addition to his defensive prowess, Taylor has also shown an ability to make havoc on the base path. He stole 16 bags in 2015, but after a solid 2015 campaign, Taylor’s production took a step backward in 2016.
Much like 2015, injuries hit the Nationals outfield, but this time with Ben Revere. Revere’s absence opened the door for Taylor to start, but he couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
Hitting just .231, and driving in 16 runs, Taylor ended up being optioned to the minor leagues mid-season, and as a result struggled to get big league at bats. Taylor finished the year with just 221 at bats, which was nearly half the amount he got in 2016.
Taylor’s 2016 season was a major setback for his development; however, could 2017 provide him a chance at redemption?
Taylor Could Replace Jayson Werth Mid-Season
While Jayson Werth didn’t have a terrible season, he still hit just .244 in 2016. The 37 year old corner outfielder has shown some signs of regression as his average has dipped in recent years. If he continues to show signs of regression, Taylor could replace him in the outfield.
While the season hasn’t yet begun, it’s reasonable to question whether Werth will produce at a high or at least higher level than he did in both 2015 and 2016. If he doesn’t, Taylor could take his spot.
Taylor’s Potential Impact On The Nationals Outfield
Currently, Taylor is slated to be a backup outfielder for the Nationals; however, if he can bounce back, and also hit more consistently, he could possibly crack the starting order. If that transpires, he could set off a chain of adjustments to the Nationals roster, potentially for the better.
If Taylor snatches the starting gig from Werth mid-season, he’ll likely man center field. As a result, acquired outfielder Adam Eaton could move to from center field to right field. That will be beneficial given he has been more productive and has looked better in the corner outfield spot as of late.
Bryce Harper would also be moved from right field to left field.
If Michael Taylor can revive himself and have a resurgence of power, while also becoming more consistent at the plate, he could find himself in a starting role mid-season.