I decided against predictions before this season started as they're a good way to look like an idiot. I have no problem doing that on a daily basis, no need to fuel the fire. I did go out on a limb with one clear forecast among my nebulous stabs in the dark:
Travis Snider will have a good season and spend time in Vegas.
You may say "Vegas? He won't learn to control the strikezone or improve his pitch recognition when everything he wheels on flies out of the park!" You'd be right, to an extent. The situation seems very, very familiar. Almost as though the Jays went through it with Carlos Delgado in 1994. Ahh, those were the strike-shortened days. King Carlos started the season like house on fire, clubbing 8 tater tots in the April. The signs of trouble were evident though, as Carlos did almost all his damage before April 20th and didn't hit one double until his home runs dried up.
Right now, Travis Snider is scuffling. He's not making great contact, flying out too much, and generally doing too little at the plate. Going into tonight's (Monday) game; his BB/K is down to 0.43, lower than Delgado's 1994 mark. His line drive rate has shrunk to 11% with his GB/FB sitting even at "way too fucking high." Even his rate of home runs per fly ball is getting a little on the low side (for a clear-cut power hitter.) The strangest fact is one I wasn't prepared for: he's almost stopped striking out. Snider's only struck out 3 times in the past 8 games. Encouraging, no? Except that he only has one walk over that span and a mere three line drives. Hrm.
Maybe I'm overreacting? Perhaps Travis Snider is one slight adjustment away from returning to a state of constant mash. What does the contact information suggest? Travis Snider doesn't get cheated, that much is for sure. The second swingingest guy on the team behind Rod "Youkilis" Barajas. One key difference between Rod and Snider: contact. Travis Snider swings at almost the same percentage of pitches outside the zone but only hits 44% of them, by far the lowest on the team. Maybe that's a good thing, maybe he's being fooled by offspeed pitches (he's seeing a lot) and getting himself into 2 strike holes? Perhaps Snider became wary of his strikeout numbers, shortened up to avoid the Ks and now fancies himself some sort of budget-Ichiro? God, I hope not.
The million dollar question remains: while he may be out of sorts at the big league level, what will Travis Snider learn from a month or two in AAA? I encourage you to correct me if I'm wrong, but AAA pitchers are more likely to be journeyman junkballers hoping for a spot-start than the live-but-raw-armed prospects of the lower minor leagues. Doubly true in the PCL, where errant fastballs go to die. Let Snider work on his pitch recognition or whatever you want to call it, rebuild the confidence Cito's failed to imbue in him by forcing him to bunt and sit against lefties and off you go. To me; Snider's yet to enter the "nothing left to prove at AAA" stage.
This isn't what I want, I love to watch Snider play. He's actually impressed me in the field and he seems to be a good soldier that enjoys a good walkoff mosh. But he needs to sort some stuff out at the plate. If the Jays continue to play well and compete, can we honestly justify him learning on the job at the expense of the team? I know it's too early to suggest such things, but why not bring up some outfield stiff (or Buck fucking Coats for laughs) and let Millar DH until his bat runs cold. Maybe even slow down Snider's clock a little bit, just for fiduciary shits and giggles. Let's just make get him right, sooner rather than later. It worked out for Delgado, didn't it?
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