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Taylor delights Dodgers, confounds opponents

Dodgers utility man comes off bench to homer, triple in win over Braves
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The secret is out. Chris Taylor is good. But, how good?

"Until you've done it, you really don't know what you have," manager Dave Roberts said of Taylor, who came off the bench Saturday night with a homer and two-run triple that helped power the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Braves.

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LOS ANGELES -- The secret is out. Chris Taylor is good. But, how good?

"Until you've done it, you really don't know what you have," manager Dave Roberts said of Taylor, who came off the bench Saturday night with a homer and two-run triple that helped power the Dodgers to a 6-2 win over the Braves.

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"Where is his floor? We don't know. What's his ceiling? I try to stay away from projection of what to expect. Each night he tries to help us win a baseball game. I can't sit here right now and say he's hit his ceiling."

But he has hit 12 home runs. He has a .310 average, second-highest on the club, behind Justin Turner. Even though Taylor began the season in the Minor Leagues, his 43 RBIs are fourth on the club. He's started at five defensive positions (second base, shortstop, third base, center field and left field). He's hit in every spot of the batting order except for ninth.

Roberts used the word "elite" to describe Taylor's play in the outfield this year, where he had never really played, until injuries to Andre Ethier and Andrew Toles created an opening. He made mechanical adjustments in his swing last winter that generated increased bat speed and his power to the opposite field is impossible to ignore.

"That's the type of hitter I've always been, taking pride to drive ball to the right-center gap," Taylor said. "In the past, my power has been the other way in the form of doubles. Now that I've added bat speed, some of those balls are getting over the fence."

Video: ATL@LAD: Taylor drives in a pair of runs on a triple

Taylor's offense tailed off in June, when he said he was moving his head too much, diving into pitches and not seeing the ball well. He adjusted by watching video to get his mechanics back to where they were when he was recalled in April.

He's 27-for-63 in July (.429) with three homers, three triples and six doubles. He's 16-for-31 since the All-Star break. Three of his home runs have been grand slams. His 12 stolen bases lead the team. He's one of the best acquisitions of the current management team, having been acquired last year from Seattle for pitcher Zach Lee.

"He's a spark," said Roberts. "We talk about how many good players we have, he's not so much under the radar now."

Just don't ask Taylor to weigh in on the debate of how good he can be.

"I try not to focus on it, just try to be the best player I can be and get better every day," he said. "Throughout my career, even in Little League, I was never the best player on my team. I always had to work at it. A big credit of why I've gotten here is that I've constantly improved at every level and learned along the way."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Chris Taylor