An era of Nationals baseball officially came to an end Monday when outfielder Michael A. Taylor signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals.
Taylor was never a star player in Washington, nor was even a year-to-year everyday player. But the versatile fielder won over Nationals fans with his even-keeled demeanor and propensity for hitting big home runs in the playoffs. He also stuck around for a while, leaving D.C. as the Nationals’ second-longest tenured position player behind only Ryan Zimmerman.
For a player who hit just .237 as a fourth outfielder over parts of seven seasons, Taylor managed to be a part of several big moments — both good and bad — for the Nationals. Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable.
May 13, 2015: Grand slam off the bench
Taylor started this game on the bench but entered the game for Bryce Harper after he was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh. Two innings later, Taylor was at the plate facing a bases-loaded situation for the first time in his career… with the Nationals trailing the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 down to their final two outs.
He took Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed deep, living up to his billing as the team’s “cleanup hitter” batting fourth in the lineup for Harper.
June 22, 2016: Worst nightmare
Taylor was already having a bad night heading into the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 0-5 at the plate with five strikeouts, creating a black hole in the middle of the Nationals’ lineup. Washington hung onto a 3-2 lead with Shawn Kelley trying to secure the save. But with a runner on first, Yasiel Puig hit a groundball that got past Taylor in center and allowed Puig to walk the Nationals off.
Sept. 8, 2017: Redemption in grand style
When Taylor stepped to the plate with the bases loaded against the Philadelphia Phillies in this one, no one had hit an inside-the-park grand slam in almost two years -- Philadelphia’s Aaron Altherr hit that one thanks to a missed groundball by Taylor. Facing those same Phillies, Taylor repaid the favor with a little help from Odubel Herrera in center.
Oct. 11-12, 2017: Michael A. Tater is born
Prior to the 2017 season, Taylor was 0-2 with two strikeouts in his playoff career. He changed that with a couple hits over the first three games of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, but really made his presence known in Games 4 and 5. With the Nationals trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning of Game 4, Taylor came through with a go-ahead grand slam off Cubs closer Wade Davis to help force a Game 5.
But he wasn’t done. The next day, Taylor went yard again to give Washington an early lead in Game 5.
Oct. 9, 2019: Sealing the series
For a player most renowned for his defensive prowess, this list has included several gaffes by Taylor in the outfield. Well, here’s a play Nationals fans might remember: the diving catch he made to seal the Nationals’ NLDS win over the Dodgers in Game 5.
Oct. 12, 2019: Baseball giveth, baseball taketh away
Taylor was thrust into a temporary starting job during the Nationals’ 2019 World Series run, starting five consecutive games in center field while Victor Robles nursed a hamstring injury. He went 6-20 (.300) over that stretch, which included a much-needed home run off Adam Wainwright in Game 2 of the NLCS.
However, he gave that run back later in the game by letting a ball off the bat of José Martínez sail over his head in center field.
Washington still went on to win the game 3-1.
Oct. 23, 2019: World Series glory
In what now may go down as his final postseason at-bat in a Nationals uniform, Taylor used his only plate appearance of the 2019 World Series to launch a solo home run off Houston Astros reliever Chris Devenski in the ninth inning of Game 2 to pad a huge Washington lead.