Age on Opening Day 2016: 25
How acquired: 6th round pick, 2009 draft
MLB service time: 1 year, 37 days
2015 salary+bonuses: $509,000
Contract status: Under team control in 2016, arbitration-eligible in 2018, free agent in 2021
2015 stats: 138 G, 511 PA, 49 R, 108 H, 15 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB, 35 BB, 158 SO, .229 AVG, .282 OBP, .358 SLG, .640 OPS, 3 E, 12.4 UZR, 0.0 WAR
Quotable: "I can't say enough about the kid. He's been learning on the job. He's matured a lot this year. Last year he had a great year in the minors and came up. This year he's got a chance to play. It's been good to see his development and see the type of player he can be. There have been a lot of good signs from him, not only this season but for the future and seasons ahead. He looks like a big leaguer to me." — Jayson Werth on Michael Taylor
2015 analysis: Michael Taylor wasn't supposed to play a major role for the Nationals in 2015. He wasn't even supposed to reside on the big-league roster the entire season. But long-term injuries to Denard Span and Jayson Werth opened the door, and Taylor took advantage of the opportunity with an impressive (if erratic) rookie campaign.
The good: Taylor excelled in center field, making the extended loss of Span negligible from a defensive standpoint. He showed a real knack for putting together quality at-bats in big spots, hitting .317 with an .897 OPS with runners in scoring position. And he flashed an impressive power-speed combo, one of only nine players in the NL with at least 14 homers and 14 stolen bases.
The bad: True to his reputation, Taylor struck out a lot, 158 times in only 511 plate appearances. He didn't show much patience at the plate, compiling a .282 on-base percentage. And he went through several prolonged slumps, leaving himself close to an automatic out at times.
2016 outlook: This season was all about finding out whether Taylor was ready to be the Nationals' everyday center fielder in 2016. He may not have been perfect, but he sure seemed to answer that question in the affirmative.
Now, Taylor needs to refine the rough edges around his game. The biggest key: Consistency. He can't let himself go through those long slumps. He also needs to learn how to cut down on his swing when the situation calls for it. He's never going to be a high-contact hitter, but he can be better and more selective when needed.
The best way for the Nationals to think of Taylor might be not as Span's replacement in the lineup, but as Ian Desmond's replacement in the lineup. The two are similar types of hitters: Good power, good speed, big swingers. Taylor isn't going to be this team's leadoff hitter next year or beyond, but he could be quite a productive No. 6 hitter for some time.