The 2021 Major League Baseball postseason begins this week and former Cavalier Chris Taylor and the Los Angeles Dodgers will look to bring home back-to-back World Series championships.
Taylor is no stranger to big-time playoff baseball games, even dating back to his college baseball career at Virginia. In one of the most memorable and important plays in UVA baseball history, Taylor came up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs with Virginia trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth in the deciding game three of the 2011 Super Regional against UC Irvine. Taylor delivered a walk-off single up the middle to score two runs and send Virginia to Omaha for the second time in program history.
Taylor was inducted into the Virginia Baseball Hall of Fame in 2020.
The Seattle Marines selected Chris Taylor with the 161st overall pick of the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. Taylor was with the Mariners’ organization for four years until he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 in exchange for Zach Lee in what Seattle Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto later called “clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made.”
Less than a month later, Taylor hit his first career home run, a grand slam, against the Diamondbacks in a game in which Taylor also had a double, a triple, and six RBIs.
Taylor has continued to prove his value to the Dodgers’ organization since then, playing the role of the ultimate utility player. Since he joined the Dodgers in 2016, Taylor has played in 120 games at second base, 35 at third base, 182 at shortstop, 177 in left field, 11 in right field, and 187 in center field.
In the 2017 NLCS, Taylor led the Dodgers to a five-game series victory over the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs and was named co-MVP of the NLCS alongside Justin Turner. Taylor hit a home run on the first pitch of Game 1 in the World Series, but the Dodgers ended up losing to the Houston Astros in a controversial seven-game series.
The Dodgers went back to the World Series in 2018, but lost again, this time to the Boston Red Sox in five games.
Finally, in 2020, the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win their seventh World Series title and first since 1988. Taylor had five hits and a home run in the series.
This season, Taylor got off to the best start of his career and was selected as a reserve to the National League All-Star roster for his first ever All-Star game appearance. Taylor became the third former Virginia baseball player to make an All-Star Game, joining Ryan Zimmerman and Sean Doolittle, who each have two All-Star Game appearances.
For the season, Taylor is batting .254 with 20 home runs, 73 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and a .782 OPS. Taylor missed considerable time with a neck injury in the second half of the season and saw his numbers and playing time go down as he struggled to regain his All-Star form when he came back. Given his extensive playoff experience, however, expect Taylor to play a crucial role for the Dodgers in the upcoming postseason.
The Dodgers are the fourth-seed and will host the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday at 8pm. If the Dodgers defeat the Cardinals, they will face the San Francisco Giants, who boast the best record in baseball, in the National League Division Series.
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