JAYS FROM THE COUCH LOOKS AT THE IMPROVEMENTS SECOND BASEMEN DEVON TRAVIS HAS MADE TO HIS GAME THIS SEASON.
At the start of the 2015 season, the big question mark in the Blue Jays infield remained to be “Who was going to play second base every day?” Ryan Goins seemed like the obvious answer, as his defensive range and arm were both at an elite defensive level. Surprisingly enough, it was rookie Devon Travis turning heads at Spring Training, who was acquired in a trade sending Anthony Gose to the Detroit Tigers. Travis would start the season off at second base, and right out of the gate, he would exceed everyone’s expectations as a rookie.
In the month of April, Travis would play in twenty-two games, making 89 plate appearances. In that time, he would go on to hit .325/.393/.625, with six home runs, and 19 RBI’s. These stellar, yet steady numbers, were good enough to take home the American League Rookie of the Month for April. In the month of May, Travis’ season would quickly come to halt, as he would be sidelined by shoulders injuries, finding his way onto the 15-Day Disabled List. Things didn’t improve from there, the status of the injury got worse, Travis would find his way onto the 60-Day DL, eventually being shut down for the season in September requiring surgery on his shoulder. Starting from that amazing stretch in April, the rookie sensation would only play 40 more games in the rest of the season after April.
Blue Jays fans were patient with the return of Travis, getting updates on the rehab process, but it wasn’t until May of 2016 that we saw him back in a Blue Jays uniform. It didn’t take much time for Travis to get right back into the swing of things. In the month of June this year he has made 98 plate appearances, batting .304/.337/.543, with five home runs, and 17 RBI’s. Travis’ 2016 June numbers are very similar to his April numbers, it seems as though he has gotten back to his 2015 prime in no time
One of Travis’ biggest strengths is his ability to work the ball seamlessly to every area of the field. The spray chart above, shows that Travis actually works a lot of his base hits to the opposite field, but has the ability to pull the ball for more power hits. This season Oppo% is 37.1%, while Pull% is 29.9%, mix that in with speed around the bases, and you have a potential deadly leadoff batter. In his career, Travis has batted lead off in 25 games, but has all the potential tools that posses a great lead off hitter. With contact to all parts of the field, speed, and the great ability to work his way on base, it would be surprising to see the Blue Jays not slot Travis into the leadoff spot permanently sometime this season.
One of the greatest improvements to his game has been on the defensive end. It may be hard to quantify some of the defensive improvements, as he’s only played a little more than half the innings in the field this year compared to last. Looking at plays made inside and outside of his second base zone, Travis has improved on his revised zone rating this year by .02, basically exactly the same as last season. Which doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you add in the fact that he’s already slightly made over half the plays outside of his zone, saved two more runs on defense, and hasn’t committed an error all season, compared to the six he made last year, you can clearly see that Travis’ range at second base is getting better.
A healthy Travis was an encouraging sign for everyone this season, but to see him return to peak form so quickly shows that he might be ready to take his game to the next level. He’s the kind of player fans should certainly get excited about. His continued improvement on both sides of the field shows great signs for a player who is only twenty-five years old.
*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Keith Allison-flickr-CreativeCommons
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Spencer Redmond is a Graduate of the University of Wisconsin. His loves in life are the NBA, MLB, Stats, and his dog Parker.