This week, the Royals added another outfielder to the mix, inking Michael A. Taylor to a one-year, $1.75 million deal. The 29-year old had spent the last seven years with the Nationals, mostly as a reserve player who had decent power, good speed, and terrific defense, but had trouble making contact. He had a great attitude in Washington, endearing some fans.
Taylor will get a chance to compete for the centerfield job in Kansas City, so here are some things to know about the newest member of the Royals.
The “A” stands for Anthony
Taylor is frequently referred to as “Michael A. Taylor” to distinguish him Michael David Taylor, an outfielder that played for the Athletics and White Sox from 2011 to 2014. The “A” stands for “Anthony”, named after his father, who was a logistics officer for 22 years in the U.S. Army and passed away in 2017.
He played high school baseball with two other big leaguers
Taylor comes from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and played shortstop and pitcher (featuring a 90 mph fastball) for Westminster Academy, a private school. In his freshman year, he was teammates with two seniors - Matt den Dekker and Kevin Chapman - that would eventually play for the University of Florida. The Royals would draft Chapman as a pitcher in the fourth round and he would eventually make the big leagues with the Astros. The Mets would draft den Dekker as an outfielder in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, and he would spend parts of six years in the big leagues, joining Taylor in Washington in 2015. Taylor would sign out of high school, having been selected in the sixth round of the 2009 draft by the Nationals.
He began his career as a shortstop
Taylor played shortstop in high school and began his minor league career at the position. But he committed 22 errors in 37 games in the infield in rookie ball. A hand injury kept him from developing much at the position, and when he went to play instructional league ball that fall, the Nationals asked him to move to the outfield.
“Just not a very good shortstop,” he said with a smile. “Going into center field, once I moved, I was very determined to be the best I could out there. The next stop was probably home after that, so I went out there and worked very hard.”
Taylor took detailed notes on pitcher and batter tendencies to anticipate how the ball would be hit, and worked at practicing all three outfield positions. That diligence would pay off when he reached the big leagues in 2014.
He homered in his very first MLB game
It didn’t take long for Taylor to make an impact once he was called up. He singled in his very first at-bat, against Mets pitcher Rafael Montero. In his third at-bat, he homered off Carlos Torres, the first of his 53 career big league home runs so far.
Michael is a post-season hero
Taylor may not be known for being a high-average hitter in the regular season, but in the post-season he is a clutch king. Taylor has appeared in 16 post-season games and has hit .316/.395/.632 in 43 plate appearances with four home runs. He even hit a grand slam in the 2017 NLDS against one of the best closers in the game - Wade Davis.
In 2019, he became the 39th player in big league history to homer in his first World Series at-bat.
Oct. 23, 2019— Matt Weyrich (@ByMattWeyrich) October 15, 2020
World Series Game 2 vs. HOU
Taylor has one career World Series at-bat. He also has one career World Series home run. pic.twitter.com/81rW7eT77W
Michael is a cool cucumber
Michael is known for being a low-key, sarcastic guy, and is able to contain his emotions even after big moments on the field. In 2019, the Nationals overcame a 2-1 series deficit to defeat the Dodgers. Taylor made a terrific shoestring catch for the final out of the series, and just acted like “ho hum, no big deal.’
will never forget Michael A. Taylor's mostly nonplussed reaction to the Nationals finally winning a friggin' Division Series pic.twitter.com/YsYC4stAgX— Andrew Mearns (@MearnsPSA) November 30, 2020
Taylor is an outstanding defender
It shouldn’t be surprising that he made a terrific catch to clinch a series, he seems to make amazing defensive plays with some frequency. Taylor is 22nd in Defensive Runs Saved among all outfielders since 2015 and is 26th out of 200 outfielders in UZR. Using Statcast data, we can see he is 17th among all outfielders in Outs Above Average since 2017.
He can also throw 100 mph, at least clocked from his throws from the outfield.
Taylor is good with his hands off the field too
Michael Taylor has good hands on the field and off. He has a very detailed process on how to break in his gloves, telling reporter Jesse Dougherty at the Washington Post “I don’t lay awake at night thinking about my glove. But I do care a lot about how it feels on my hand.”
He got into wordworking this year, working on small furniture. He talked to our friends at Federal Baseball about his new hobby.
“I probably started with a friend of mine who is a carpenter. He came over one day and helped me build a banquette in our dining room, and I just really enjoyed it. Even though he did the majority of the work, and I was just kind of like an assistant. I just really enjoyed the process and then having like a finished piece that you built yourself, I didn’t build, but from there he kind of just helped me out with a couple tools that I would need to get started and just started tinkering around. Been doing it for 5-6 years now.”
He is also into muscle cars, showing off his ‘65 Mustang to ESPN.
Thanks to Patrick Reddington at Federal Baseball for background info on Taylor!