The Cuban born Tony Taylor was the Phillies regular second baseman throughout the 1960s. A speedy, right-handed hitter, Tony was always among the National League leaders in stolen bases. A former All-Star and fielding percentage champ, Taylor was a sound ballplayer who collected a hair over 2,000 career hits.
One of the first Rule V Draft success stories, Tony was signed by the New York Giants in 1954 but the Cubs took him in the draft in 1957. Not one of those rookies who wasted away on the bench, Tony was given just under 500 at-bats by Chicago as a freshman. The Cubs regular second baseman, he paced his position peers in the National League with 21 steals. Over the course of his career, Tony would pilfer 234 bags. Even better the following year, Tony finished second in the NL in steals in ’59 and had his second straight season of turning 100 double plays.
Despite Tony’s early success with the Cubs, he was traded to the Phillies in the first month of the 1960 season. After settling in as the Phillies everyday second baseman, Taylor was voted to the NL All-Star team. After his All-Star campaign, Tony battled through an injury-plagued 1961 season–the year noted for its offensive explosion. Shortly thereafter, pitching began to spike and batting averages across the Majors fell.
After a solid year in 1962, in which Tony was the only Major Leaguer with 20 steals and 60+ walks, he enjoyed his best season in 1963. That year he established his highwater mark for runs scored in a season when he crossed the plate 102 times for the Phillies. He led Major League second basemen in steals and posted career highs in base hits and triples. For his steady work, Taylor was awarded some MVP votes.
When pitching took center stage, Tony’s numbers began to dip. He fell to a career low .229 batting average in 1965. In 1966, Tony became a nomadic defender, splitting time between second and third base. He had to wear even more gloves in 1967 when he played every infield position, with the majority of his action at the initial sack. In 1969, Tony led NL third basemen in steals but his bat got back on track in 1970 when he was the only member of the Phillies team to hit .300. The Phillies as a team hit a measly .238 but Tony carried his weight and then some, posting career highs in both RBI and homeruns.
Traded to the Tigers in 1971, Tony was able to make his first postseason appearance in Motown the following year. In the 1972 ALCS, he banged out a pair of doubles in a losing cause to Oakland. But his days as a regular were over. He platooned with Detroit in 1973 before rejoining the Phillies as a pinch hitter in 1974. Tony showed that he still had plenty life left in his lumber at the age of 38 when he hit .328. He played until he was 40, retiring in 1976.
G 2,195/R 1,005/H 2,007/2B 298/3B 86/HR 75/RBI 598/SB 234/BB 613/SO 1,083/BA .261/OBP .321/SA .352