By trading Ben Revere, the Toronto Blue Jays have created the perfect opportunity to give Dalton Pompey his real shot at the big leagues.
In trading Ben Revere to the Washington Nationals for Drew Storen, the Blue Jays were trading from an area of depth. Part of that depth is provided by Canada’s own Dalton Pompey. He’s in a group of outfielders that includes Michael Saunders and Junior Lake. Realistically, Pompey has a chance at cracking the big league roster in 2016 and taking the full time roll in left field.
This time last year, we were singing the same tune: “Pompey could earn a starting role with a good spring”. A lot has happened since then. He did start 2015 with the club and struggled to the tune of a .203 average in April. He struck out 23% of the time, walked just 7.3%. Unfortunately, his struggles were compounded by a .246 BABIP.
Then, of course, there was the defensive miscues that accompanied a kid who was “playing scared”, to which is manager replied, “That’s not good”. Indeed, it was not. After one game in May, Pompey was sent down to AAA and made way for Kevin Pillar‘s coming out party. Buffalo wasn’t kind to him either at first. Some wondered if the proximity to Toronto played a role in that. Regardless, he was sent even further down to AA, New Hampshire.
That sparked him. Pompey put together a .351/.405/.545 line with 6 HR and 7 stolen bases. Luck was also on his side with a .387 BABIP. His strong play in AA earned him a trip back to Buffalo where he waited for the call back up to the big leagues. And, it came. He was added to the postseason roster and contributed with his wheels off the bench. We all remember him sliding into 3rd base in celebration.
He brings a level of speed that is now missing with the departure of Revere. According to Fangraphs, his Speed Score last season was 6.4, but since 2013, it has always been above 7 and as high as 8. The other big league option, Saunders, hasn’t seen a score of 7 since 2009. And, with his knee concerns, do we really expect he will in 2016? Without Pompey, the Blue Jays will be lacking in speed big time.
Another aspect that Pompey brings over Saunders is that he is a switch hitter. Now, Saunders is a lefty, which this club desperately needs. So, the advantage here is not exactly huge. But, in this day and age, having a guy who can hit both ways is like having two batters in that it provides options.
Really, what this comes down to is whether or not the Blue Jays feel like Pompey can play everyday. It appears that they feel Saunders is the type of guy who can, but his health has to call that into question. All things equal, he very well could be an everyday guy. But, the risky move to remove the meniscus may cloud that a tad. The other side of this equation is that folks mightn’t be comfortable giving everyday at bats to Pompey, who struggled the last time he had them.
But, can we really say that he was given a fair shake? Is 103 plate appearances (in 2015) enough? Pompey would benefit from an environment that provides him the confidence in knowing his job is secure (as much as any MLB job can be). Everyday at bast provide a player to work through struggles. We can’t really say that Pompey had that. Not completely.
Saunders is projected to earn $2.9M in arbitration. Some might say that his salary kind of dictates that he be given priority. Rather than see it that way, maybe you look at the sum of the pair and go with the guy who earns the spot out of Spring Training. If that is Saunders (and he’s healthy) so be it. All I’m saying is that Pompey be given a fair shot. #FreePompey
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.