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Washington Nationals’ Dusty Baker on Michael A. Taylor getting another opportunity with Adam Eaton on 10-Day DL...

“You’ve got to hit for yourself, because when you’re in that box, you’re in that box all by yourself.” - Dusty Baker on Michael A. Taylor’s latest opportunity.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Michael A. Taylor got his first big opportunity in the majors when Denard Span and Jayson Werth were injured in 2015, and he made a good/not great showing in his first sustained run.

Over 138 games that season, the then-24-year-old outfielder put up a .229/.282/.358 line with 15 doubles and 14 home runs in 511 plate appearances, over which he was worth 1.0 fWAR.

Taylor received another opportunity when Ben Revere, acquired to play center in D.C. in 2016, suffered an oblique strain on Opening Day last season, but Taylor struggled and when Revere returned and couldn’t get into a rhythm, the Nats turned to Trea Turner as the everyday center fielder late last season, playing the young infielder instead of giving Taylor or another outfielder more time.

Over 76 games last season, Taylor posted a .231/.278/.376 line with 11 doubles and seven home runs in 237 PAs in a 0.4 fWAR campaign.

The problem all along, of course, has been his ability to make contact. Taylor has struck out 261 Ks in 814 career plate appearances (32.1% K%) in his career.

He’s had opportunities to turn things around and show what he can do, and he’ll get another one in the coming days with Adam Eaton on the 10-Day DL as he awaits the results on an MRI on his left leg/knee/ankle.

Eaton suffered the injury late in Friday’s game against the New York Mets after getting off to a solid start in his first season with the Nationals following this winter’s 3-for-1 trade with the Chicago White Sox.

How much time Eaton will miss is unclear at this point, but as Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker explained today, Taylor will get the first opportunity with Eaton out.

While the Nationals called up Rafael Bautista, ranked No. 13 on’s list of the Nats’ top prospects, who impressed in Spring Training and got off to a good start at Triple-Syracuse early this season, it’s going to be Taylor getting the first shot in center with Eaton out as Baker explained when asked how he saw things playing out with Eaton unavailable.

“You see it on who plays the best,” Baker said, “probably it’s Michael gets one more opportunity or two, but you’ve got to realize that it could take a while to get your timing, get everything together because you’re not playing.”

“Plus we’re playing some pretty good pitchers here,” Baker added.

“We’re facing Syndergaard tomorrow, we face Taijuan Walker, and then we face Robbie Ray and we face [Zack] Greinke, so those are guys that are tough on whoever is out there, so I’m going to give him a few days and then we’ll make an assessment, but this is an opportunity with Michael.

“I told him this morning he’s been very blessed to keep getting these opportunities, because you’ve got to capitalize on them, because this is a lifetime of opportunity for him. He’s arbitration-eligible, he’s trying to get an every day job back, so just play ball, that’s the main thing, just play.”

So what has Baker seen from Taylor in his year-plus on the Nationals’ bench?

“You’ve seen him — which I didn’t see — you’ve seen him when he came up that half a year,” Baker told reporters.

“So you know it’s there, and so, there’s a few things you’ve got to change. Some guys are going to strike out, strikeouts are acceptable in baseball now, but they’re not acceptable to me necessarily, it’s when you strike out, it’s not striking out, it’s when you strike out and it’s a matter of swinging at strikes or being aggressive in the strike zone.

“Like I said, I’ve talked and talked and [hitting coach Rick] Schu and Jacque [Jones] have talked, and you can’t hit for him.

“You’ve got to hit for yourself, because when you’re in that box, you’re in that box all by yourself, because when you go to the bank, you go to the bank by yourself, you know what I mean, so we’ll see.”