Picking Up Chris Taylor

With Hanley Ramirez out another week with his oblique injury, picking up and starting Chris Taylor as the Mariners play in Philadelphia and Boston looks like a decent replacement option in weekly leagues. I like Taylor not only this week but as a solid down the stretch middle infield option for deeper leagues.

As an owner of Taylor in dynasty I have followed much of his season. I kept waiting for his .400+ BABIP in triple-A to drop sharply but it never did. He was likely on pace to be brought up earlier in the season than he was, but right when Brad Miller was struggling most Taylor injured his finger and was forced to be put on the disabled list.

With a mix of quality defense and a reliable bat, it looks like the Mariners are going to go with Taylor as their regular shortstop down the stretch run. With the M’s being tied for a wildcard spot it certainly makes a lot of sense to stick with the guy that has been hitting all season. So now that we have the playing time likely figured out, why do I like Taylor as a fantasy option?

Coming into the year Taylor was the 9th ranked prospect in the system as he was coming off a year split between single and double-A in which he hit .314/.405/.455 with eight homers and 38 steals while he was caught stealing just five times. The University of Virginia product has hit at every stop he has made and his extremely good bat control has allowed his BABIP numbers to be astronomical along the way. That is certainly a cause for concern, but it gives some hope that he might just be a guy with a good enough swing plane to sustain an extremely high BABIP regularly. Essentially what we are hoping for offensively is that he is a shortstop eligible 2013 Chris Johnson with speed.

This year at triple-A the stolen base efficiency dropped and the power has not come over from the PCL into the majors. He has shown doubles power, hitting six in his first 66 plate appearances in the majors, but in order for him to be fantasy relevant he will need to start hitting balls over the fence or start stealing bases very soon, because the .356 average and .409 OBP are sure to drop. Hopefully in good pitching parks this week we see the power come out.

Is Taylor going to be a world beater? No, your expectations have to be reasonable, but he should continue to be a solid source of a high average, a solid on base percentage, a bit of pop, and some speed in the short term. If you are looking for an injury replacement or a super cheap option to fill your middle infield spot down the stretch run, Taylor’s track record of hitting at least a 131 wRC+ at every level he has played at (minimum 20 games played) is as good an option out there on the waiver wire.

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Ben Duronio writes for Capitol Avenue Club, FanGraphs, and does the Sports Illustrated Power Rankings. Follow Ben on twitter @Ben_Duronio.

11 Responses to “Picking Up Chris Taylor”

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  1. Steve says:

    RoS: Better than Solarte?

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  2. Close to the Edge says:

    Thanks. How would you compare Chris Taylor to Derek Jeter or Chris Owings (when healthy) for ROS in a deep 5×5 OBP league?

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    • Francis C says:

      I would rather have Chris Owings (if healthy) because at least he has shown the ability to give you some HR and SB. I’m not sure if Chris Taylor will ever show anything. I suppose this week is a good chance to find out.

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  3. Baroque6 says:

    Anyone know why he hasn’t stolen a base yet? How much speed would be reasonable to expect ROS?

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  4. mg says:

    is brad miller droppable in 20 team mixed leagues?

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  5. jose says:

    How early would you stash Soler in a redraft league? Hoping for a big september after a call up.

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  6. edgar4evar says:

    One issue with Taylor is his position in the batting order. He’s typically hitting eighth or ninth so he is unlikely to rack up big counting stats. And you shouldn’t put too much stock in PCL numbers. Compare Taylor’s .328/.397/.497 to Miller’s .356/.426/.596 his first year in AAA. Miller had a nice July and August last year after coming up (.734 and .759 OPS respctively) but flailed embarrassingly at the plate for the first two months this season. I’m preparing to see Taylor struggle as the league adjusts to him.

    That said, he could continue his hot streak and be a good fill-in for this week. I’ve got Hanley and I’d probably have picked him up if the other M’s fan in the league didn’t have him. I nabbed Solarte instead.

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    • edgar4evar says:

      Oh hey, Taylor is batting second today against the lefty Cole Hamels. Could just be a day off for Ackley vs. the tough lefty Cole Hamels. We’ll see.

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  7. pirates hurdles says:

    Eh? .467 babip with no real power or speed, seems like a .320obp-10-10 guy at best, even with a .350 babip. Isn’t Miller still a the better dynasty play?

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    • Emcee Peepants says:

      He’s shown a solid walk rate >10% at all his stops so far, and assuming he can raise it to that level in the majors, he’s probably more of a .350 OBP with 5/20 guy (as his ceiling). Yes, his BABIP is high, but it was .412 in 346 PAs at AAA this year, .368 in 300 PAs at AA last year, and .407 in 319 at high A last year. As noted in the article, he looks like he might have a naturally high BABIP, and therefore might be a .300 hitter. Miller looks to have more power potential though, so it probably comes down to who the M’s want to give the opportunity to.

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