When Corey Seager pulled up lame and grabbed his left hamstring at Angel Stadium earlier this month, the Dodgers immediately knew they would be without their shortstop for some time. And for however long it took for Seager to recover, they were expected to absorb a drop-off on offense.
Seager had been one of baseball’s best hitters over the previous three weeks. He had found his groove. Replacing that with Chris Taylor, history suggested, was unlikely.
But Taylor has stepped into the everyday role and delivered similar production, helping sustain the National League’s highest-scoring offense. In 15 games since Seager was put on the injured list June 13, Taylor was batting .429 with three home runs and a 1.1238 on-base-plus-slugging percentage entering Friday’s meeting with the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers are 11-4 in those games.
Taylor, 28, attributed the surge to a tweak.
“Probably around the time when Seags got hurt, I just realized I just needed to start a little earlier,” Taylor said. “And that was really the only mechanical adjustment I made.”
Taylor acknowledged playing every day also helps, but he maintained he has felt significantly better at the plate since the beginning of May when he implemented substantial mechanical changes in an attempt to regain his 2017 form, which produced a breakout season.
After carrying a .162 batting average and .493 OPS through May 1, Taylor is batting .315 with a .954 OPS in 167 plate appearances since.
Taylor's strikeout rate has remained consistent — it was 26.2% through May 1 and it’s been 27.5% since — but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Taylor’s inflicting damage with strikes.
“He's ending at-bats when he's supposed to,” Roberts said. “There's swing-and-miss with a lot of guys, but when you're not going well and the ball's in the zone and you're not putting it in play, that's not a good thing. So I think that with Chris, in the last few weeks, balls in the strike zone, he's putting in play and taking good swings, putting them in play, and getting hard contact.”
On Thursday, Taylor recorded two doubles and two singles, including the go-ahead RBI hit on a flare to shallow right field in the eighth inning. He emerged with a .265 batting average and .800 OPS on the season. On May 1, he was hitting .162 with a .493 OPS. A lot has changed in less than two months.
“Once you get into a groove, you keep things going,” Taylor said, “and get into a rhythm.”
The future is approaching
Infielder Gavin Lux and right-hander Dustin May were selected to participate in the Futures Games, scheduled for July 7 in Cleveland. Both prospects spent time in big league camp during spring training. They were promoted from double-A Tulsa to triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday.