Should the Blue Jays move Devon Travis to Left Field?
By Samuel Bruce
Devon Travis is back on the Disabled List, and leaves many a fan craving his offensive spark. After dominating baseball in May, Travis turned his season around. Yet his nagging knee injury has once again prevented him and the Blue Jays from seeing a full season of play. Perhaps a change could help keep him safer.
I have long been skeptical about the ability for Devon Travis to remain relevant in the Major Leagues. His injury history dating back to 2015 has always, to me, overshadowed his on the field production. That all changed in May as I, like many fans, saw Travis pull a complete 180. His production helped put the team into the competitive picture, and ensure a tomorrow. Unfortunately now Blue Jays fans are anxiously awaiting news on his knee injury and hoping it won’t end his season.
Despite shortened seasons the last three years, Travis has shown that he’s a complete player offensively and defensively. At only 26, he still has plenty of time to establish himself as a dominant MLB player who can play the better portion of a season. Wanting to see him achieve his full potential, I wonder if a change in position could help our injury prone star. With DH being very competently filled by Kendrys Morales for the near future, the best place may just be left field.
Statistically, this has generally been considered the least athletic position on the field. Moving Travis from the very athletic position of second base would ease up on him substantially. There would be no more risk of collision with an oncoming base runners. He would less frequently need to step out of the way if Troy Tulowitzki got a better jump on the ball (which he frequently does).
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Travis originally struggled defensively, but the guidance of Tulo and others helped him transition into an average to above average defender. If he can more than capably play at second, he should be able to transition to left with ease. Kevin Pillar‘s super-heroics right next to him should also ease his defensive workload.
With less to do on field, Travis would have more time to focus on being a dominant batter. The Blue Jays could follow the Cubs who transitioned Kyle Schwarber to LF to make sure they could use the steady and powerful production of his bat on a day to day basis. Schwarber profiles as more of a DH, and has less athletic proficiency than Travis has. Given this success, Toronto could find an even bigger boon by protecting Travis in this way.
Of course, there are many variables in the way. The biggest would be the dreaded turf of the Skydome. At second, Travis plays mainly in dirt, and transitioning to the turf of the outfield presents the risk of making it harder for him to play. With no sign of change on the horizon, this would be the biggest obstacle in this transition.
Ezequiel Carrera and Steve Pearce are both in the way too. While Pearce is on the DL as well, he will most likely be back before Travis. Carrera has many fans (myself included) and has done well enough as a starter. Despite this, left is one of the Jays’ weakest positions. Jays Journal’s own Brendan Panikkar looked at potential external options in left here. But what if we already have an option internally?
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Only time will tell if Travis will be able to play again this season. If he can, and given the current lack of strength at left field, I think the Blue Jays should look at putting him there. That would leave second base open, save for Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney. Soon I will present you with my ideas on external players the Blue Jays should target at second. This, of course, is only if Travis is moved, or out for good this year.