Age on Opening Day 2016: 25
How acquired: Drafted by Nationals, 6th round, 2009
2015 stats: .229 AVG, .282 OBP, .358 SLG, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB
2016 storyline: Thanks to injuries to Jayson Werth and Denard Span, the 24-year-old Taylor got his first extended opportunity to play in the big leagues last season. Though he flashed ability as a power-hitting, rangy centerfielder, he went through some of the typical rookie struggles and was unable to put together long stretches of quality play. Still, his season totals were more than respectable; he hit .229/.282/.358 with 14 homers, 15 doubles and 63 RBI in 138 games. So you have to figure that he'd shown enough to be given the job full time in 2016, right?
Not so much, apparently. One of the Nats' biggest moves this offseason was the acquisition of veteran centerfielder Ben Revere from the Blue Jays, a sign that the organization isn't yet ready to anoint Taylor as the everyday guy. But just because he may start the season on the bench, that doesn't mean he won't get another chance somewhere down the line.
Best-case scenario: Because Taylor will start the year off as the fourth outfielder, it appears that the only way he will get significant at-bats is if someone at the top of the outfield depth chart suffers an injury.
If given another chance to play more, the best case for Taylor is that he proves to the Nats once and for all that he's ready to become an everyday presence in the lineup. In order to do that, he's first got to cut down on the strikeouts. He K'd 158 times in 2015, second on the team only to Ian Desmond's 187 whiffs. If Taylor can get that number down, play as well defensively as he did during the the final two months of last season and continue to display power to all fields, an outfield job should be his.
Worse-case scenario: Taylor's growth could be stunted this season if the starting outfielders stay healthy throughout the season. That'd be a good thing for the team as a whole, but it'd mean fewer at-bats for someone who could eventually blossom into a solid player. What'd be even worse is if Taylor struggles in the limited opportunities he's given.
Most-likely scenario: Predicting injury is a tough thing to do, but let's say there's a stretch where Taylor might get more run because he's filling in for someone else. If that's the case, it's reasonable to expect somewhere between 250-to-300 at-bats for him in 2016. Taylor raising his average up to around the .250 mark seems realistic enough, though it's likely his home run total will be down from 2015.