Bernie: Free agent public service star Chris Taylor would be a perfect fit for Cardinals

It happens quickly. Officers are talking, the media is listening, there’s a kettle hissing on the hot stove and social media is in turmoil. Baseball offseason rumors are happening and multiplying and leaving people breathless – and there are no disruptions in the supply chain. This gossip is free… and much cheaper than, say, the price of a Thanksgiving turkey in 2021. We all love rumors; they are fun and harmless and don’t make you gain weight.

We need to microwave these valuable rumors for as long as possible, at least until Commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners start the expected union battle by blocking players on December 1. Baseball’s weirdly self-destructing madness stays in place, and it’s the perfect way to throw some coal dust during the holiday season. Seriously: have you ever seen a professional sport that hates itself more than Major League Baseball?

Well, all is said. I advance…

Rumor: The Cardinals are among 2,421 teams interested in free agent Chris Taylor, the all-terrain utility player who played a valuable role for the Dodgers from 2017 to 2021.

Well, go get it then. Seriously, Taylor is a ridiculously ideal fit for what the Cardinals aspire to be (offensively) in 2021: more versatility, more flexibility, more options, more parts for improved games. That’s manager Oli Marmol’s stated goal, so the Cardinals should help the man.

Why Taylor? Oh, a bunch of reasons. Let’s take a look, then have him sign and equip the birds on the bat:

1) Taylor played six positions last season: 294 innings at second base, 81 at third base, 154 at shortstop, 170 at left field, 423 at center and 69 innings at right field. With less than 4 points saved, Taylor was not good defensively at center last season, and he did not play well at third. Taylor’s imperfections are forgivable as he wouldn’t be parked at any position for a long time. Marmol could move this dude multiple times per game and use Taylor’s bat properly.

2) Taylor is a very good hitter. In 617 regular-season games for the Dodgers, he had a base percentage of .343 and a slug of .461 for an OPS of .804 and was 16% above the league average offensively in adjusted runs. of the park and the league created.

3) Taylor hits right handed but is above par when hitting against a right handed pitcher. And that’s an important consideration for a Cardinal team that has taken 79.6 percent of its home plate appearances against right-handed pitchers over the past three seasons. In his five seasons as a Dodger, he had 0.796 OPS against RHP and 0.821 OPS against lefties. Taylor 15% above league average against RHP since 2017.

4) Taylor is a more basic runner who posted a 79% base steal success rate and a 47% base steal success rate as a Dodger. Last season, he ranked in the 91st percentile of MLB players in sprint speed. That only adds to his value – and Taylor is a lot of value, averaging just under 3.2 WARS over his last four full seasons.

5) Taylor’s walk rate over the past three seasons is a formidable 11.6% percent, which places him in the 75th percentile of all major league hitters. Taylor doesn’t chase a lot of shots out of the strike zone; he was in the 93rd percentile in this area last season. And it was even better in 2020. (That said, Taylor has a 27.6% strikeout rate over the past three seasons, and that’s pretty high.)

6) Need a big bang? Taylor is a man of money. In his last three seasons he hit .306 and slugged .517 with runners in scoring position and had a .916 OPS with RISP. To put that into the adjusted park and league runs created: Over the past three seasons, Taylor was 41% above the league average offensively when batting with runners in goal position. It’s good, isn’t it?

7) Defensive changes don’t bother him at all. In his last four seasons, Taylor has a batting average of 0.316 against traditional shifts and an average of 0.460 when faced with non-traditional shifts. A glance at Statcast shows several things: Taylor was never a Statcast star, so to speak. His offensive metrics are solid but nothing to write home about. But it is stable and constant. Its hard hit rate, average exit speed and barrel percentage remained intact, with no obvious signs of slippage.

8) Double blow. The Cardinals emphasized the need for better hitters in two-stroke counts. Taylor can help the cause. Over the past five seasons, he’s been a .182 hitter with two strikes; last season, the Cards had a two-stroke batting average of .169.

9) Taylor thrives in playoff pressure. In 62 playoff games for the Dodgers, Taylor had a base percentage of 0.364 and a slug of 0.478 for an OPS of 0.842. He had one extra base hit every 11.9 at-bat in the playoffs. In the 2021 playoffs, Taylor scored 13 for 37 (0.351) with an OPS of 1.202 and eliminated the Cardinals with a two-run homerun in the wild card game. He slammed three home runs in Game 5 of the NLCS to temporarily save the Dodgers from elimination.

As the Los Angeles Times noted, “Taylor has come a long way since the Dodgers acquired him for Zach Lee in 2016. He has become an integral part of three winning teams, a playoff hero and a debutant. All-Star in 2021 as a ready-to-play utility player.

10) What will it take to sign Taylor? He has just turned 31. He had a booming first half in 2021, collapsed terribly in the second half and played in the playoffs. The cost of a contract with Taylor likely increased with his baseball hero playoff moments.

From the LA Times: “Taylor is 31 and his defense has declined this season. Its market will be intriguing. He expects to see three-year deals with the potential for a four-year deal.

The cardinals can decide all of this. But if they want to build a stronger overall distribution of positional players, add a major advantage to multiple positions, dramatically improve their depth, and bring in a championship-caliber player who thrives under pressure – then Taylor is the guy.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his sports talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It is broadcast Monday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. .

The weekly “Seeing Red” podcast with Bernie and Will Leitch is available on 590thefan.com… but we’re on a brief hiatus now.

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

* All statistics used here are from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, and Brooks Baseball Net, unless otherwise noted.

Bernie miklasz

Over the past 35 years, Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

Although he is best known for his voice as the Senior Sports Columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington DC

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of Saint-Louis.


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