When center fielder Adam Eaton went down for the year with various knee and lower leg injuries after stepping on the first base bag awkwardly, many were worried about how the Washington Nationals would replace his production at the top of the order.
So far, Jayson Werth (122 OPS+ this season) has handled the No. 2 spot but it’s been Michael Taylor making a name for himself in center.
Taylor is 26-81 (.321) with seven extra-base hits and 11 runs scored in 21 games since Eaton was injured, providing speed at bottom of the order and making web gems all over the outfield.
The former sixth round pick was ranked the No. 32 prospect in the minors by Baseball America ahead of the 2015 season after hitting .205 with three doubles as a brief late-season call-up.
He’s had an up-and-down career since then, playing impressively enough in his rookie season for many to consider him a potential 20/20 player, but he has yet to approach that mark as the strikeouts have piled up.
Now, Taylor’s showing that his potential was warranted and that he deserves to man the middle outfield position.
While his numbers have certainly been impressive, however, there are several factors that indicate he’s not going to be able to sustain this for long.
Taylor’s strikeout rate is a staggering 35.2 percent, which is the third highest mark in the National League among players with at least 100 plate appearances.
Despite being lauded for his power as a prospect, Taylor owns just a .147 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) — which is just above the league average of .140.
One of the biggest indicators of a player hitting into some luck is a high batting average on balls in play (BABIP).
A .300 BABIP is about average for most hitters, but Taylor currently owns a mark of .413.
There will be a plethora of outfielders available at the trade deadline, and it would be in the Nats’ best interest to consider trading for one at some point this season.
For now, the hot-hitting club can ride out Taylor for as long as he continues to produce.
Just don’t count on it to last very long.