Dodgers News: Roberts Addresses Chris Taylor’s ‘Alarming’ Strikeout Problem
Dodgers utilityman Chris Taylor has never been a big contact hitter. He led the league in strikeouts in 2018 with 178 and had another 167 last year. His strikeout rate since becoming an everyday player has been between 25 and 29.5 percent.
And yet, despite all the strikeouts, Taylor has posted a 113 OPS+ over the last five years, which, combined with his defensive skill and versatility, has made him a very valuable member of some very good Dodgers teams.
This year, though, is a different story. Or maybe just an extreme version of the same story. Whatever it is, Taylor’s OPS+ is only 93 and his strikeout rate is 36.6 percent. He has 131 strikeouts in just 358 plate appearances, a rate that would give him 221 if he had the number of plate appearances as he did in 2018. Yeah, you read that right: Taylor would be on pace for 43 more strikeouts than he had the year he led the league in strikeouts.
According to Jack Harris in the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is painfully aware of Taylor’s strikeout issue.
“The strikeout rate, the swing-and-miss rate, is alarming,” Roberts said. “I know he’s not trying to swing and miss, trying to strike out. But I think for me to feel confident to run him out there more consistently, it’s just got to get better. And I know he understands that too.”
Taylor, too, is aware of his struggles.
Taylor acknowledged he is “missing balls that I don’t normally miss.” He also conceded that, while he’s been prone to cold stretches throughout his career, this slump is starting to feel extreme.
However, he also remains hopeful of a turnaround, drawing a comparison to last year when he slumped down the stretch of the regular season before becoming one of the Dodgers’ most clutch performers in the postseason.
“It happens every year where you go through phases,” he said. “This year, it’s been a little bit more than years past. But it’s not like a new feeling.”
Roberts says he will continue to get Taylor consistent at-bats in an attempt to get things fixed, but he acknowledges that they’re running out of time in the regular season.
“If you’re not getting that [consistent power and contact] and the strikeout rate spikes, it’s just hard to stomach. So some level of consistent contact is what we’re all looking for.”
Roberts said last week the role of closer in October will be a meritocracy, and it’s safe to assume the playing time for position players will be, too. Taylor brings a lot to the table with his defensive versatility, but the Dodgers have legitimate big league options at all his positions. So when it comes to October playing time — heck, maybe even a spot on the playoff roster — the deciding factor will be Taylor’s bat.
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Taylor has been a huge disappointment this year. It is frustrating to watch his at bats. But, I guess we have to keep running him out there so he can work on getting better. I think he should be working on it in OKC. Belli is also a hot mess and Gallo just sucks.
Unlike previous years the Dodgers have excellent defensive outfielders in Thompson and Gallo and they have been better offensively. Lux is having a breakout year. If Taylor wants at-bats they should come from giving the infielders an off day. Muncy has been good lately but who knows if he continues.
I think Roberts should be more bothered with:
BELLINGER, MUNCY & GALLO!!!!!
More bothered, maybe as much but certainly not more?
With Thompson, Lux, Outman, and Vargas, Dodgers looking like they have supoerior options to Taylor and Bellinger. I get it that Outman and Vargas are unproven at the major league level, and its late to substitute them out this season, and Thompson emerging from nowhere looking like a right handed version of “good Bellinger”, but we may need to clear out spaces for these kids going into next season.
Maybe if he quit trying to swing for the fences every swing and just started making contact things will turn around. After all you can’t steal first base. Same goes for Bellinger, Muncy and Gallo !!!!