Spring training is in full swing as the Blue Jays play their first exhibition game today against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Through the early days of camp, all of the typical things going on this spring for the Toronto Blue Jays. There position battles, new faces, rookies looking to break camp, and veterans that we hope produce at the level we have grown accustomed too.
With all the things going on around camp as games get going, we look to start the conversation on five things that still may not be getting enough discussion as March opens.
#5 – Ryan Goins vs. Devon Travis
Ryan Goins filled in admirably for Devon Travis as he recovered from injury last season. Goins filled in so well that he finally started gaining a following by Jays fans as his plus glove finally had a hitting complement.
Goins season splits were quite remarkable. In nearly the same amount of at-bats in each half he was able to double the amount of walks he had. In the first half he triple-slashed a harsh .226 / .273 / .321 but boosted that to a respectable .274 / .361 / .387 in the latter half of the season.
This was mostly attributed to an improved approach at the plate. Goins began his swing with his bat rested on his shoulder and would raise it as the pitcher went into their motion. This relaxed timing mechanism allowed Goins to see better pitches. He was still striking out, but he was walking at a much greater frequency. The fact that he was seeing better pitches translated into more hits also.
Devon Travis remains headed for the Disabled List as the season starts. The Jays are currently unsure when Travis will return, though mid-May is being used as an initial timeline. With the amount of thump in the everyday lineup, it can be assumed they will not rush Travis back.
The Blue Jays have an even more fearsome lineup with Travis healthy. His bat had him in Rookie of the Year talks early in the 2015 season. Travis would go on to play in 62 games and amass a 2.4 WAR in that time, coming up big when he was needed and appearing to be all-too-comfortable playing in the Majors. He would close the season with a .304 batting average, eight home runs, 38 runs scored, and 31 RBI. Pretty amazing for a rookie that played hurt near the end of their season.
Here is the wrinkle. What if Goins gets off to a smoking hot start and has a month similar to his August 2015 performance? Last August he batted .314 with 14 runs scored, 9 RBI, 3 doubles, and 2 homers. Does this make people question who is on second? Time will tell.
Next: #4: Staying on the left side: Who's on first?