I Am a Fan of Toronto Blue Jays’ Devon Travis and You Should Be Too

 

Jays From the Couch argues that we shouldn’t write off Devon Travis and his ability to contribute to the Toronto Blue Jays

 

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The New Year is all about new beginnings and second chances, so why not give one to Devon Travis? I am a Travis enthusiast, and I believe he is worth giving another opportunity to prove himself. Most seem ready to give up on the 26-year-old because of his injury struggles. It’s a fair criticism as Travis has only played 213 games since coming into the league in 2015.

 

An old teacher of mine once told me that being present and on time is only half of what it takes to be a genius. Trust me when I say I understand Travis’ inability to stay off the disabled list is a huge factor to consider when evaluating him. The Blue Jays acquired Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte to serve as super utility men, (Both can play all over the diamond, but are mainly middle infielders.) but also because of the health problems surrounding both Travis and Troy Tulowitzki. However, I do still believe the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to Travis.

 

Travis was praised as an excellent offensive second baseman when the Jays acquired him. Even though he’s dealt with several injuries, he is still one of the better hitting second basemen around the league. I like using the stat wRC+ when comparing players offensively. It measures a player’s production compared to the average position player and adjusts for park effects. Anything above or below 100 would be the percentage of runs that hitter is worth. Devon Travis has a career 112 wRC+, so he’s produced 12% more runs than the average hitter would have in the same number of plate appearances. Here’s how he stacks up against his peers

 

 

I love elite defence almost as much as I do extra-base hits and nasty breaking balls. But there’s something to be said about guys willing to sacrifice their body and lay it all out. Travis won’t win any gold gloves, but I think he gets the job done at second base and isn’t holding the Jays back. There’s a bunch of defensive metrics we can use, but let’s look at Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Range per 150 defensive games. Both stats try to measure a player’s defensive worth by measuring how many runs they’ve saved or conceded compared to the average player at that position. Travis has six DRS in 1794 innings at second base, which according to Fangraphs would make him an above average defender. Since Travis has missed considerable time due to injury, I thought it would be better to use UZR/150 when comparing him to his peers.

 

 

An intriguing idea first mentioned by, MLB’s Gregor Chisholm is the possibility of Travis playing LF. Before the Tigers traded him, they were planning on converting him to an outfielder, but the idea was quickly shut down. Considering the Jays’ current LF options are Ezequiel Carrera and Steve Pearce, why not give Travis a chance? There would be growing pains and a period of transition defensively, but you can’t afford to lose what he brings to the lineup. Part of the allure of acquiring Aledmys Diaz was that he could play a bit of LF as well as SS and 2B.

 

Of course, this all proves to be moot if the Jays decide to call up Anthony Alford or sign one of Lorenzo Cain or Jarrod Dyson (Which is ideal). The acquisition of Solarte creates a logjam in the infield, but I’m not complaining, and it’s a good problem to have. Kendrys Morales has an 85 wRC+ against RHP since 2016, compared to Travis’ 108 and Solarte’s 115. So, maybe Travis and Solarte can steal some ABs at DH against RHP from Morales. Every time I try to find a solution to a problem relating to the Jays, Morales always seems to be an obstacle.

 

If you’re still not swayed on giving Travis another chance, then maybe I can change your mind with one more chart. Now, wins above replacement or WAR metrics aren’t the be all end all, but it’s just another statistic that likes Travis. WAR attempts to calculate a player’s total contribution to their team in one statistic. It measures how many wins a player is worth compared to if they to be replaced due to injury or whatever circumstance with a bench player or one in AAA. Travis ranks 19th in fWAR (Fangraphs WAR) among 2B since 2015 in significantly fewer games played compared to his peers.

 

 

 

I’ve spoken a lot about Travis’ playing ability, but I haven’t touched on the person he is. You’d be very hard pressed to find a humbler and kind spirited individual. He’s always smiling and has something positive to add to conversations. Anyone who’s been watching the Jays over the last few seasons knows this of him. That type of personality is Infectious and needed over the course of the long season. During an interview this past June, Travis was almost brought to tears when talking about being back on the DL. “It doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. This is my career and what I signed up for. I know all this (the injuries) comes along with it. I will get through this.” I guess the cruel reality of this game is that its also a business. No matter what happens I will always be a fan of Devon Travis, and now hopefully you are as well.

 

 

 

 

*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.

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