Appreciating the Success of Devon Travis

Despite working with one of baseball’s most talked-about lineups, Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis is quietly piecing together a very solid season.

The 25-year-old Travis made his major-league debut on Opening Day in 2015 and began putting up results that easily put him in contention for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. His .304/.361/.498 slash line through 62 games last year was truly stellar, but a shoulder injury that required surgery kept him on the disabled list for the final two months of the regular season and hindered his chance at receiving the prestigious award.

Travis’ rehab from the surgery carried over into the 2016 campaign a bit, as Travis did not rejoin the Blue Jays’ stacked batting order until late May. Since then, nonetheless, Travis has performed consistently with how he did last season, managing a .300 batting mark and .807 OPS in 71 games since his return from the disabled list.

Despite lacking the power numbers that designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, right fielder Jose Bautista, and third baseman Josh Donaldson possess so naturally, Travis plays a very important role in Toronto’s batting order. For a team that has experienced much offensive regression from this point a year ago to now, Travis’ ability to reach base — whether it be by way of one of his 86 hits or fifteen walks — is essential, because it sets up opportunities for Encarnacion, Bautista, and Donaldson to do what they are paid to do: drive in runs.

Another result of Travis’ success is the immeasurable impact that he has on the flow of the lineup. Perhaps the last thing an opposing pitcher wants to do is stare down the burly Encarnacion as he looks for another fastball to murder, take on Donaldson when he is on a tear, or pitch to the mighty Bautista with the game on the line. On the flipside for said pitcher, facing a guy capable of batting .300 like Travis is presents a problem of its own because the pitcher would be more or less forced to pitch to Travis or either of the three aforementioned sluggers, creating two scenarios for the pitcher that are equally unfavorable.

Travis is currently nursing a sprained tendon in his right ring finger, but returned to the lineup on August 27 after sitting out the previous four games, and has recorded two hits and an RBI since his return. As he eases back to a cleaner bill of health down the stretch, look for Travis to retake his spot toward the top of Toronto’s batting order and begin setting the table for the team’s biggest bats.

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