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.

Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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