Grading the 2023 KC Royals: Samad Taylor

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Welcome to our annual Kings of Kauffman postseason series analyzing the performance of various KC Royals players. Today, we take a look at how Samad Taylor did in 2023.

Samad Taylor played all over the field for the KC Royals after making his MLB debut on June 17, 2023. But, outside of his historic debut, not much went right for the 25-year-old utilityman.

The Royals acquired Taylor last year from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Whit Merrifield trade. He did not play for any Royals minor-league teams after the acquisition and struggled in the 2022 Arizona Fall League. There wasn't much excitement surrounding Taylor. But those are often the ones that surprise fans the most.

Samad Taylor started strong for the KC Royals but struggled in 2023.

Taylor saw a surge at the plate in Triple-A Omaha before his promotion. He hit 304/.409/.463 with six home runs and 34 stolen bases in 62 games for the Storm Chasers. A hot bat and defensive versatility likely fueled his promotion, and both served him well in his debut game.

Taylor started in left field on June 17 as the Royals hosted the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels built a comfortable lead early, but Taylor's clutch hitting helped the Royals make a thrilling comeback. His first MLB hit was the decisive walk-off winner, ending a 10-game Royals losing streak. He was just the second Royals player to hit a walk-off in his debut. According to ESPN, the first to do so was Kevin Seitzer in 1986. It was a feel-good moment for Kansas City, seeing the unknown prospect make an impact in the biggest way possible.

Outside of that moment, things were not great at the plate for Taylor. He posted a.193/.254/.263 line, with 22 strikeouts in 64 plate appearances. He did have a respectable 10% barrel rate and a 10.1% walk rate, but that wasn't enough to make him an offensive asset. His speed, ranking in the 91st percentile, was his biggest strength, making him a popular pinch runner. But that was not enough to keep him in the majors. The Royals sent Taylor back to Omaha on Sept. 4. This is how Taylor's stats at the plate shook out in his MLB season:

31 G, 69 PA, .200/.279/.267, 4 RBI, 8 SB, .546 OPS

Advanced numbers to know:

31.9% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate, 49 wRC+, .966 infield fielding percentage.

What season grade should Samad Taylor get?

I do find Taylor's season hard to grade. I was a big supporter of his during spring training this season and thought he should break camp with the team. Alas, a subpar plate approach showed why he did not join the Royals until nearly three months into the season. He is good on the basepaths but struggles to get on base for long stretches. Furthermore, he was well below average defensively in the infield, which cannot be coupled with a below-average bat.

He still has time to turn things around and could be a budget trade candidate for another team. But, looking at his MLB performance, I have to give Taylor's 2023 season a D.