Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights of the 2018 season. This time: Devon Travis
We’re kicking off our 2018 player highlights & lowlights with a look at Devon Travis. When the Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2018 season, they were just hopeful that the 27 year old would be able to give them a full season of work. While being hopeful, they also were proactive in adding a couple infield options just in case. To his credit, he played in the most games of his big league career this past season. That said, he didn’t turn out to be the offensive force we’d seen him be in the past.
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The fact that Travis managed to work in 103 games has to be the first highlight of his season. After playing in just 50 contests in 2017, the knee issues that previously plagued him seemed to be in the past. Well, that was until near the very end of the season when he needed an MRI on his left knee. But, by that point, the season was more than over for the club and he had reached a career high in games played.
There weren’t very many other highlights to consider from Travis’ 2018 campaign. There were moment of him flashing his decent speed (Spd rating of 4.6 according to Fangraphs)
As well, there were moments of his glove proving that he is, in fact, capable of playing solid defense.
Unfortunately, the metrics don’t always agree with the video evidence. For Travis, the numbers indicate that his speed wasn’t overly useful with a BsR value of -0.1. Even the most simplistic measure of speed, the stolen base shows Travis didn’t use the speed he has as he totaled just three bags swiped. As for his glove, he has shown he can handle the keystone position, but he won’t be in any Gold Glove conversations any time soon with a 2018 UZR/150 rating of -12.5 and DRS of -6.
If the above were the only concerns surrounding Travis 2018 season, the Blue Jays wouldn’t have much of a problem. However, his calling card – his offensive production – was far more disappointing.
Travis slashed .232/.275/.381 for a wRC+ of 77. That’s a far cry from what he did in 2016 (111) and from what we have seen him show glimpses of in the past. Remember when it was talked about that he would be the club’s leadoff hitter? Well, that has to have been put to bed for the foreseeable future. A .275 OBP is certainly not going to cut it. Sure, he suffered through a lower than normal BABIP (.255), but his 2018 season is more than some bad luck.
Travis’ GB% went up (49.8%), his LD rate went down (21.2%) as did his fly ball rate (21%). He hit for a shade more weaker contact and less hard contact. His ability to put the bat on the ball on pitches outside of the zone has decreased, helping his overall contact rate take a slight dip. Perhaps some of this can be explained simply by the fact that, compared to his last season with as many games played (2016) he saw 1726 pitches, which dropped to 1394 in 2018. Sure, this comes from 53 fewer at bats this past season, but it screams a less patient approach at the plate. Of course, you could counter this by saying that his walk rate is roughly the same as his 2016 and his K% actually decreased from that season.
Regardless, Travis did not put together the offensive season we hoped he would, despite playing in the most games he’s ever played in. With several players knocking on the door, a slow season at the plate does not bode well for him.
Even the most ardent supporters of Devon Travis have to be looking ahead to 2019 and wondering what the future holds for the lovable second baseman. As of right now, he very well could start the season in his familiar spot. But, with very nice showings from guys like Lourdes Gurriel, and an infield already crowded, Travis could start to feel the pressure quite soon. Ending the season with a(nother) knee issue is not exactly a good sign for him either.
Hopefully, he takes the offseason to heal and figure things out at. Otherwise, he very well could lose his job and find himself in Buffalo waiting for someone else to struggle the way he did.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.