Three-feat: Taylor's game by the numbers

October 23rd, 2021

In Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, three was the number of the night:

• Three, as in the number wears on the back of his jersey

• Three, as in the number of homers Taylor launched to key an 11-2 blowout victory

• Three, as in the number of consecutive wins the Dodgers needed coming into the game to rally from a 3-1 NLCS deficit against the Braves for the second consecutive year

Then there’s three-three-three; that is, the time of game (3 hours, 33 minutes) as Los Angeles sent the series back to Atlanta for Game 6 on Saturday.

Here are more amazing facts and figures from a spectacular night for Taylor and the Dodgers:

Three-homer games? The Dodgers are familiar
• It’s one thing to go deep three times in an MLB game, another to do so three times in a postseason game and something else entirely to do it when your team’s back is against the wall. In fact, Taylor is the first player in MLB history to homer three times in a game in which his team faced potential elimination.

Before Taylor, only one player had even gone deep twice and driven in at least five runs in either an LCS or World Series potential elimination game: Johnny Damon, who homered twice and drove in six for the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

• Taylor is the 11th player in MLB history to smack three home runs in a postseason game and the second Dodger. In fact, the Dodgers account for back-to-back entries on that short list. Kiké Hernández -- more recently seen starting for the Red Sox in this postseason -- was the last to do it before Taylor. Coincidentally, Hernández’s 2017 effort also came in an NLCS Game 5 -- against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Hanging with Tio Albert
• Another coincidence? One member of the exclusive three-homer club in the postseason is , who was batting one spot ahead of Taylor in the Dodgers’ lineup. Pujols went deep three times for the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series against the Rangers.

• Speaking of Pujols connections, Taylor became the first player since Pujols in that Fall Classic to produce at least four hits and at least six RBIs in a postseason game. Omar Vizquel (2001 American League Division Series Game 3), John Valentin (1999 ALDS Game 4) and Will Clark (1989 NLCS Game 1) are the only other players to produce that stat combo.

Clutch Chris
• If you’ve been following the 2021 postseason, you know this was not the first time Taylor has come through in the clutch. Taylor hit a walk-off, two-run homer to help the Dodgers claim the winner-take-all NL Wild Card Game, and he drove in a run in Los Angeles’ NLDS Game 4 victory to stay alive against the Giants.

That makes nine RBIs for Taylor in 2021 potential elimination games alone, and that’s already tied with a group of October legends for the third-most elimination-game RBIs by a player in any postseason: Edgar Martinez (1995), David Ortiz (2004) and David Freese (2011). Only Anthony Rendon (10 in 2019) and Valentin (12 in 1999) have tallied more. And remember -- Taylor is playing in at least one more elimination game Saturday in Atlanta.

• Taylor has four home runs in potential elimination games this postseason, the most by a player in a single postseason. And any additional NLCS games as this series continues will be potential elimination, too. Thus, it is worth noting that only eight players in history have hit more than four home runs in a postseason career in elimination games: David Ortiz (six), and Jason Varitek, Mickey Mantle, Delmon Young, Manny Ramirez, Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and Yogi Berra (five each).

A career night for CT3
• Taylor’s homers weren’t cheapies, either. His first blast of the night left his bat at 112.3 mph, marking his hardest-hit ball under Statcast tracking since 2015. The 110.7 mph walk-off home run that Taylor hit in the NL Wild Card Game is tied for his second-hardest homer under Statcast. So, yeah, he’s swinging a hot bat in more ways than one.

Taylor’s second homer left the bat at 105 mph, and his third featured a 99.8 mph exit velocity. Thursday marked the fifth time Taylor has belted three 99-plus mph base hits in a game under Statcast tracking.

• Remember, Taylor started this game batting seventh in the Dodgers’ stacked lineup. He’s the first player to knock three homers from the seventh spot in a postseason game, and he joins Adam Kennedy (ninth spot, 2002 ALCS Game 5) as only the second player with a three-homer postseason game from the bottom third of a lineup.

The only other player to notch at least six RBIs in a postseason game from the bottom third of a lineup is Bobby Richardson, who drove in six for the Yankees from the No. 7 spot in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series.

• Taylor racked up 13 total bases in Game 5 -- three more than he produced in any previous MLB game, in the regular season or postseason. That total broke Hernández’s Dodgers postseason record from his three-homer game.

• Taylor had one previous six-RBI game, all the way back on July 15, 2016, against the D-backs -- which was his 11th game in a Dodgers uniform following his trade from the Mariners. And, of course, this was Taylor’s first three-homer game in his career.

• Taylor is the sixth player to pile up at least 13 total bases in any postseason game, joining the Giants’ Pablo Sandoval (2012 World Series Game 1), the Cardinals’ Pujols (2011 World Series Game 3), the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui (2004 ALCS Game 3), the Angels’ Kennedy (2002 ALCS Game 5) and the Pirates’ Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS Game 2). Taylor is the first to do that in a potential elimination game.

Taylor’s game -- and his postseason in general -- is all the more amazing when you remember how he finished the regular season. Taylor was an All-Star back in July but slumped in August (.666 OPS) and fell off a cliff in September/October (.402), going 7-for-65 (.108 average) with 26 strikeouts over his final 25 games. Even before Thursday night, he already had more hits than that through nine games this postseason (8-for-28). And in Game 5 alone, he matched his homer total from July 31 to the end of the regular season, a span of 155 at-bats.

Dodgers bats wake up
• Of course, Taylor had the signature three-homer game, but, not to be overlooked, teammate crushed two of his own. The Dodgers became just the third team in postseason history to have multiple players with multiple homers in the same postseason game, joining the Padres in 2020 NL Wild Card Series Game 2 (Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers) and the Yankees in 1932 World Series Game 3 (Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig -- the “Called Shot” game for Ruth). The Dodgers’ duo is the only one to feature an individual three-homer game within it. In other words, those five home runs by Pollock and Taylor were the most combined by two teammates in a postseason game.

• The Dodgers walloped five total homers in Game 5, tying a franchise record for any postseason game with the five they hit last year against the Braves in Game 3 of the NLCS. Only two teams had previously clubbed five homers in a potential elimination game, and each of them came before the LCS round: The Padres in Game 2 of the 2020 NL Wild Card Series and the A’s in Game 3 of the ‘20 ALDS.

• The win sealed a seventh straight win when facing elimination for the Dodgers, with that entire streak coming over the past two postseasons. It’s the third-longest win streak in potential elimination games by any team in history, trailing only the Giants’ 10 straight wins from 2012-16 and the Royals’ eight straight from 1985 to 2014. And with a nine-run victory in Game 5, the Dodgers set a franchise record for margin of victory in a game when facing postseason elimination.