With an 0-for-4 on Wednesday night in Seattle, Blue Jays’ second baseman Devon Travis snapped a career-long hitting streak of 17 games during which he hit .392. Now 155 games into his Major League career, Travis has given the Blue Jays an encouraging picture of what he could do over a full healthy season.
A shoulder injury in 2015 that led to an offseason surgical procedure kept Travis out until late May this season, limiting him to just 93 games so far after appearing in only 52 as a rookie. In spite of that, his consistency and ability to adapt to opposing pitching has given the Blue Jays something they’ve lacked — an undeniable second baseman of the future.
Travis currently ranks eighth among American League second baseman with a 2.4 Wins Above Replacement in 2016. Of course, eight of the top ten players in this category have played at least 143 games. Logan Forsythe, who ranks just ahead of Travis with 3.0 fWAR, has appeared in 117 games.
Through his 155 career games — which can very optimistically be called a full and healthy season for Travis — he’s earned a value of 4.7 fWAR. The American League is strong at the position with the likes of Jose Altuve, Robinson Cano, Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Kipnis, Rougned Odor, and many others, but regardless of that, a full season of Travis playing at peak level could put him in a fringe top-5 conversation.
His 2015 breakthrough, including an .859 OPS with eight home runs, was certainly stronger than the (still impressive) sequel he’s put together. It can’t be discounted, however, that Travis has played for much of his MLB career either well below 100% or behind the curve coming out of spring training.
What makes this value relatively sustainable for Travis is the consistency of his tools across the board. His ability to adapt at the plate and a fundamentally sound swing should keep his bat-on-ball tool afloat, and despite four errors in seven games to open September, Travis is more than talented enough defensively.
Even on the bases, Travis is one of Toronto’s more valuable players when it comes to Base Running Runs Above Average as he ranks behind only Kevin Pillar.
Since Travis did not make his debut until last season at age 24, the Blue Jays have him under team control until 2021 at an affordable rate through his prime years. This guarantees that Travis and Troy Tulowitzki have the opportunity to share Toronto’s middle infield for at least the next four seasons.