Every Sunday we will spotlight a current or former Seattle athlete (professional or college) that is performing well recently or did something significant in the past.
This week’s spotlight is on Mariners rookie shortstop, Chris Taylor. Taylor was called up from Tacoma on July 24th to compete with the struggling Brad Miller, and the kid hasn’t looked back since he made his debut. In fact, what started as a competition with Miller has turned into a replacement of Miller. After batting .410 with four home runs in spring training, the Mariners had high hopes for Miller to have a breakout year. Unfortunately, Brad has had a dreadful season at the dish, batting just .199 and a strikeout rate of 23.5% (which is NOT good…). With the M’s fighting for a playoff spot, manager Lloyd McClendon needed another option to bolster the lineup at the shortstop position.
Enter Mr. Chris Taylor out of the University of Virginia, a fifth-round draft pick of the Mariners back in 2012. Since his first start, Taylor has batted .400 with five doubles, three RBIs and six runs (and just missed his first home run). Even more impressive, Taylor has hit safely in each of his 12 starts in the MLB (with an average of .419 in those games). You could not have dreamt a better start for the young shortstop. He also has shown pretty good plate discipline, something Miller was lacking. Another plus about Taylor is his outstanding defense, which he is most known for. Check out this gem he had on Saturday. And even Felix Hernandez was fired up about this Jeter-esque play last week against the Braves.
While it’s unrealistic to expect his offensive output to continue, Taylor’s incredible glove means his offense only needs to be decent. If he bats .250-.260 the rest of the way with a .300 OBP that will be solid production from the bottom of the order, which is where he will likely be – as long as Dustin Ackley keeps playing well – the remainder of the season. It may not be All-Star numbers, but it’s a much-needed upgrade over Brad Miller.
For now, we can enjoy Taylor’s hot start. It surely won’t last the rest of the year, but it doesn’t have to. Taylor has made this team better already, and has been a big part of the M’s winning 6 of their first 7 games on the current homestand. While Miller will get some spot starts, Taylor has earned the starting role and I believe it’s his spot to lose. Until he starts putting up Brad Miller numbers (please…GOD NO), Chris Taylor will be your Mariners’ primary shortstop. And I’m pretty happy about it.