Back in 2006, the Toronto Blue Jays made Travis Snider their number one pick. The fourteenth overall pick, Snider was drafted ahead of guys like Kyle Drabek, Joba Chamberlain, John Johnson, Daniel Bard and Chris Coghlan. Granted, he was a rawboned eighteen year old at the time and fresh out of high school, but it's been five years. The thought of him in the Jays' starting line up has been a dream of Toronto fans for several years now. Snider has seen action in parts of the last three years, but it seemed as if his manager, Cito Gaston, did not want to commit to Snider full time. Now that there is a new sheriff in town with new manager, John Farrell, the question becomes whether Travis Snider will truly get his shot.
And even more intriguing a question if Snider does get to play is how he will do. Snider might not have benefited from trends around him in Toronto. The drop in the team's on base percentage from a league average in 2008 and 2009 in the .330 range, the Blue Jays fell to .312 in that category last season. And it seemed to this observer that was a direct strategy of the manager. While the Blue Jays certainly hit the long ball with monumental ease, a .312 on base percentage is going to cost you some games. What is somewhat frightening from a prospect standpoint for Snider is that his on base percentage has mirrored the team as a whole. While his plate appearances in the last three years have increased from 80 to 276 and finally to 319, his OBP has gone from .338 to .328 to last year's .304. And worse yet, the drop in his OBP began in the minors. He was a patient hitter early in his minor league career. The longer he played in the minors, the lower his OBP became (with the exception of 2009).
So what can we expect if Travis Snider gets to play? Well, for one thing, he hits some of the most explosive home runs in baseball. He and Jose Bautista could have a lot of fun slamming the ball over the fence. If Snider gets 600 at bats, he should hit 30 homers with 40 doubles. But will he hit for average? Thus far, he has the batting average of Bautista without the walks. He'll strike out about 100 times, which isn't bad, but his batting average needs to be higher than the .241 and .255 he's put up the last two years.
It's not really laughable as it seems that Snider's comps on baseball-reference.com are Pete Inkaviglia and Willie Mays. He could be either one of those guys at the plate. Incaviglia was once one of the biggest college prospects ever to come to the majors. He put up a lot of homers early, but didn't walk much and didn't hit for average and he became sort of a bust as a first round pick and only compiled a little over 8 in WAR for his career. Of course we all know what Mays did.
But Travis Snider isn't exactly Willie Mays in the outfield either. And where is he going to play? Jose Bautista has stated publicly that he's rather play the outfield than third base. That cements right field to Bautista. Snider really isn't a center kind of guy, which leaves him with left? This Spring Training will be interesting as Farrell has to figure all of that out.
What the Fan knows is this: Travis Snider was a big commitment by the Toronto Blue Jays when they made him their first round pick in 2006. At some point, they have to give him the chance to earn that pick. Letting him have fifteen at bats a week isn't going to do that. So they either have to play him, or cut their losses or use him as trade bait. Personally, this Fan would like to see Snider get a chance to show what he can do with 600 at bats. The Fan just hopes that if Farrell allows that to happen, Snider will deliver.