One of the pleasant surprises of the 2024 season so far has been the play of Tyrone Taylor. When the Mets acquired him from the Brewers, the thought was that he was a strong fourth outfielder, one who could play all three outfield positions and be above-average defensively. Additionally, while a RHB, he did not have a strong platoon split and actually performed better versus righties.

Taylor was a second-round pick of the Brewers in 2012, from a high school in California. He advanced thru the farm system a level at a time, with solid, if unspectacular stats, until he needed a repeat season in Double-A. Hamstring injuries limited Taylor to just 32 games in 2017, after which he spent the next two years in Triple-A, with his stats noticeably better, albeit in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

In 2019, Taylor made his MLB debut, getting into 15 games with the Brewers. During the Covid year he also played 22 games in the majors. By 2022, Taylor had established himself as a major leaguer and he finished the year on a strong note, with a .912 OPS over his final 84 PA, which came with a fairly normal .308 BABIP. While the hits weren’t necessarily falling in at a great rate, what Taylor did have going for him was power, as he rapped 12 XBH in this span, including five homers.

Unfortunately, Taylor missed the first month of 2023, after receiving a PRP injection in his ailing right elbow. He played in 27 games when he returned from the IL but was only a shadow of the player who closed so strong in 2022, as he had just a .420 OPS. The Brewers put him back on the IL after the game on June 1 and he did not return until after the All-Star break in mid-July.

It was more of the same underwhelming results for Taylor. But when the calendar flipped to August, the Brewers saw the player that they hoped he’d be. In his final 147 PA, Taylor posted a .283/.327/.573 line. And while the BABIP in this span was a bit higher than his close to 2022 at .313, this was still a power-driven stretch. His .290 ISO came with 23 XBH, including 8 HR.

The final numbers for Taylor in 2023 didn’t look all that good, as he finished with a 91 OPS+. The Brewers had a crowded outfield situation and with Taylor eligible for arbitration, they decided to cut costs, sending Taylor along with another arb-eligible player to the Mets for an injured minor league pitcher. It seemed like a steal at the time.

And so far here in 2024m that’s what it’s been. But the reason the trade looks so good has nothing to do with the other player acquired, starter Adrian Houser, who’s been terrible. The Houser part seemed key at the time because the Mets needed a starter. But three weeks later they signed Sean Manaea and Houser looked unnecessary. But an injury to Kodai Senga helped keep him in the rotation, where he’s posted an 8.37 ERA in five starts.

While Houser has been a dud, Taylor has exceeded expectations. He opened the year in a reserve role but with the club without DH J.D. Martinez until just recently, the Mets were able to give Taylor extra playing time. And he proved as good as advertised in the outfield, while displaying a potent bat. Entering Sunday, Taylor’s 139 OPS+ was the top mark on the team among the 12 players with at least 25 PA.

In 58 PA this year, Taylor has a .321/.351/.491 line. This span is more BABIP-heavy, as it’s come with a .366 mark in the category. Still, we see encouraging power here, too, as Taylor has a .170 ISO, a solid mark here in April, where MLB as a whole as a .144 ISO. The three starting outfielders for the Mets all have lower ISOs than Taylor, with Harrison Bader’s .066 ISO looking particularly anemic.

There have been three spans for Taylor here highlighted where he’s done quite well. Unfortunately, they’re all very small samples. We can add his close to 2023 and his start to 2024 together to get a slightly bigger stretch of playing time. When we do, it shows Taylor with a .293/.333/.550 mark over his last 205 PA.

It’s fine for people to be skeptical that Taylor’s true-talent level is an .883 OPS. It’s likely significantly lower than that.

At the same time, what’s Bader’s true-talent level? In his last 735 PA, dating back to the start of the 2022 season, Bader has a .243/.285/.350 line, for a 77 OPS+. Here in 2024, Bader has an 81 OPS+ and that’s with a .333 BABIP, which is 32 points above his lifetime mark in the category. Anyone skeptical of the last 205 PA for Taylor should be alarmed that what the Mets are getting from Bader may not be sustainable, either.

Taylor deserves more playing time, both for what he’s done in small samples, along with what Bader has done in a span over 3.5X larger. This isn’t to say that Taylor should play every game while Bader is nailed to the bench. But its not too much to ask that Taylor gets 60% of the playing time from now until the All-Star break, with the idea of reevaluating things for the start of the second half.

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