by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
All signs had pointed to Chris Taylor winning the Mariners’ shortstop job this spring, having posted gaudy numbers (.421/.450/.842) including 1 double, 2 triples and 1 home run in 19 AB. Unfortunately a broken wrist derailed him, forcing him to start the season on the DL and leaving Brad Miller to operate as the team’s starter.
Over a month into the season Miller has continued to struggle, hitting .250 with 1 HR over 85 PA. We can argue upside in his numbers (26.7% line drive rate, for example), but he owns a career slash of .242/.302/.389 and his -0.9 UZR places him outside the Top 20 qualified shortstops. At 10-15 an among the lowest scoring offenses in the league (92 runs place them 24th in the league, despite the big start to the season for Nelson Cruz), it was time for a change.
The Mariners needed to shake things up and turning back to Taylor is a logical answer.
It’s not to say that Taylor is a lock to produce, as his .287 average with the Mariners last season came with no power (0 HR), a little speed (5 SB) and lots of questions (.398 BABIP, 21.1% line drive rate, 25.8% strikeout rate). Power certainly isn’t going to be his game (17 HR in 1,271 minor league PA), though you can certainly argue that the 24-year old is starting to develop a power stroke.
In 434 PA at Triple-A the past two seasons he has 27 doubles, 8 triples and 7 HR. Pacific Coast League or not, those are impressive numbers and help to make us believe that he has 10+ HR upside.
He’s also displayed ample speed, including stealing 38 bases between High-A and Double-A in 2013 and 20 SB while at Triple-A over the past two seasons. That’s certainly something that will help add value, especially when combined with the potential growth in power. Could he provide 10/20 upside, even with just five months of action? It doesn’t seem unreasonable to consider that his ceiling.
Taylor also brings a strong eye at the plate with him. He owns an 11.9% walk rate and 17.9% strikeout rate in the minor leagues, including the following marks at Triple-A the past two seasons (walk rate // strikeout rate):
- 2014 – 10.1% // 21.4%
- 2015 – 10.2% // 17.0%
It shows that there is more upside than what he showed in the Majors last season (7.3% // 25.8%), further adding appeal.
Prior to last season Minor League Ball ranked him as the Mariners #7 prospect saying, “Looks to have a broad base of skills, good defense, on base ability, speed, gap power, has outhit expectations so far.” That definitely still appears to the case, as he continues to show speed, power potential and an ability to get on base.
Many waiver wires lack real value at shortstop (think Brandon Crawford, at best) and with a slew of injuries plaguing the position (Alcides Escobar, Jose Reyes, Jean Segura, Zack Cozart) there aren’t many alternatives to turn to. That makes the timing of Taylor’s return all the more important. While he’s not worth considering in shallower formats, in deeper leagues there’s definitely potential appeal.
Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- Redraft Leagues (10 teams) – A little too shallow
- Redraft Leagues (12 teams) – Warrants consideration, depending on alternatives
- Redraft Leagues (14+ teams) – Must own
- NL-Only – Must own
- Keeper Leagues – Warrants consideration, depending on league size/alternatives
- Dynasty Leagues – Must own
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Minor League Ball