As the first full team workouts got underway in Phoenix on Friday, not much came out in the way of surprises from Athletics camp. But one player stood out because he was working on a new aspect of his game. The player was Michael Taylor, and he was doing drills along with Brandon Moss and Daric Barton at first base. It makes absolute perfect sense for Taylor to start taking some reps somewhere other than the outfield because with the logjam of outfielders on the Athletics roster it seems like he would be hard pressed to find playing time anywhere other than with Sacramento.
Barring injury Taylor would assuredly spend the bulk, or even the entirety of the 2013 season in the minor leagues; and much like Chris Carter before, the A’s would not be able to find out whether he’d be able to contribute at the major league level. Giving him some level of flexibility on the field will quite possibly allow him the opportunity of escaping Sacramento once and for all.
The prevailing issue with Michael Taylor has been his power compared to his physical frame. Without a doubt Taylor is quite the physical specimen, and should be able to generate a lot of power at the plate. But it hasn’t happened since he arrived in the Athletics organization. In 3 seasons with the Rivercats Taylor has gone deep a total of 34 times, and once in Oakland, not exactly a future home run king in the making based on those numbers. The issue hasn’t been his hitting ability either, he’s posted a .278/.371/.432 slash in parts of 4 seasons at the Triple A level, counting one season at Lehigh Valley in the Phillies organization. He’s getting on base, just not generating the power a guy listed at 6’5″ and 255 pounds should be (Are you listening Ryan Sweeney?).
This may be the time though to see if he will sink or swim at baseball’s highest level, and doing so alongside Brandon Moss just might be the key. In 2012 the combination of Brandon Moss and Chris Carter formed a very effective platoon at first base, the two combined for 37 home runs and were a key aspect of the team’s success. Chances are the combination of Brandon Moss and Michael Taylor would not combine for the same amount of power, for the reasons discussed before, but they can still be every bit as effective as Moss and Carter were. Just in a different way.
I like the notion of building a new, more dynamic two-headed monster at first base. If Taylor is able to take the instruction he’s receiving from Moss, Daric Barton, and from former A’s first baseman Scott Hatteberg who learned how to play the position with the team, he’ll provide a nice compliment to the regular lineup. While I think Moss will continue to hit, while perhaps not at the level he did in 2012, he’s a very streaky hitter and will undoubtedly pass through some valleys in 2013, that could be the time when someone like Michael Taylor is able to give him time to get right.
Of course the presence of Daric Barton on the team could change everything. While he hasn’t been terribly impactful at the plate over the last two seasons, Billy Beane has a special place in his heart for Barton and one would assume he’ll find a way to get him in there as well.
Billy Beane‘s design for this team is for it to be able to withstand just about any form of adversity, he’s built depth throughout the roster, and with the versatility of the players he has the A’s should be able to cover holes at a moment’s notice. Expanding Michael Taylor’s horizons into the infield realm can only serve to help him and the team as a whole. Let’s just see if he can keep from embarassing himself out there.