Blue Jays: Travis Shaw sounds excited to hit at the Rogers Centre

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 17: Travis Shaw #21 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a double in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on April 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 17: Travis Shaw #21 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a double in the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park on April 17, 2019 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Travis Shaw made an appearance on the MLB Network on Sirius XM, and talked about his excitement to join the Blue Jays and even the AL East.

Last week the headlines around the Toronto Blue Jays were dominated by the addition of Hyun-Jin Ryu, and with good reason. The team badly needed an ace to lead their rotation, the front office delivered by signing a premium starter, and the fan base was understandably thrilled.

What was lost in that excitement was another move the front office made, and one that has the chance to pay off in a big way. You don’t say that about a player that hit .157 a year ago very often, but Travis Shaw has a chance to be a huge bargain for the Blue Jays, and should be a solid candidate to bounce back to the All-Star calibre player he was from 2017-18.

The 29-year-old had a disastrous season in 2019, which led to his looking for a one-year “pillow” contract in order to re-establish his value. That value was significant prior to last season, as he slugged 63 home runs and was worth 8.0 bWAR from 2017-2018 while playing with the Milwaukee Brewers. A series of injuries and a struggle to return to form after getting healthy added up to just 230 at-bats over 86 games, and a slash line of just .157/.281/.270 last year.

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His offensive potential certainly appealed to the Blue Jays, but so did his fit with their current roster. With the departure of Justin Smoak in free agency, the team really needed an insurance policy for Rowdy Tellez at first base, and Shaw can certainly provide that. His most frequently played position is at third base, so he’ll be capable of backing up Vladimir Guerrero Jr. there, and he can also cover for Cavan Biggio at second as well.

Despite that difficult recent history, there were as many as 14 different teams that expressed interest in the Ohio native, showing that there is plenty of belief that he can return to form in 2020. And thanks to an appearance from Shaw on the MLB Network on Sirius XM, the five-year veteran gave us a pretty good idea of what appealed to him about coming to the Blue Jays, and even the AL East.

"“For me, I always saw the ball extremely well. I mean, obviously the ball flies (there), so that’s a positive. I mean, you can’t ignore it. The AL East is a very good hitter’s division for lefties, I mean, Fenway, obviously to right field is a bit challenging for home runs, but you get rewarded to left-center field with doubles. Really, the whole division is a really good division to hit in for left-handed hitters, and I’m not gonna say that’s, that’s something you don’t really think of. If the offers are similar maybe you go into that a little bit, but obviously this ballpark can help me, it can help me put up pretty good numbers if I’m healthy and get back to where I was before, so I’m not complaining at all.”"

Makes sense doesn’t it? Shaw expressed that he’s always felt comfortable hitting at the Rogers Centre, and he wants to get back into the groove at the plate in 2020. Why not do it in a place that you feel is a bit of a hitter’s haven? As an added bonus, he’s correct when he talks about the other ballparks in the division, as Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore saw more home runs than any other park over the last decade, and the Yankees have a notoriously short porch in right field that is perfect for his left-handed swing.

Shaw spent the first two seasons of his MLB career playing for the Boston Red Sox, so he’s more than familiar with the division, and he’s right about it being easier on left-handed hitters, especially compared to the NL Central. That said, have a look at his career numbers in those ballparks, courtesy of baseballreference.com.

As you can see, his numbers don’t exactly pop off the page, but most of these at-bats came in the first two years of his career. He didn’t turn into a 4-win WAR player until 2017 when he arrived in Milwaukee, and I can imagine he had dreams of taking his adjustments and improvements back to the ballparks in the AL East. It wouldn’t have hurt to get to hit against the rotations of the Orioles and even the Blue Jays of the last two seasons either.

Next. What is the plan for Derek Fisher?. dark

Thanks to free agency, he was able to return to the division and hopefully the plan will work exactly as it sounds like he’s drawn it up. On a one-year, four million dollar pact (up to 4.675 with incentives), the Blue Jays were wise to give him that opportunity, and it sounds like he’s more motivated than ever. 

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