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2018 in Review: Sam Travis

He put together a legendary March. Again.

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates
The legend.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Red Sox Review series. It’s a fairly standard feature in which we will review the year that was for every player who made a decently large impact on the Red Sox this year. How do we come up with that definition? Completely arbitrarily, of course! The list of players we’re using can be seen here, and if we are missing anyone please let me know in the comments. Anyway, for the players who are included we will wrap up their season in a sentence, look at the positives of their 2018, the negatives, review their One Big Question from the preseason (when applicable!) and look ahead to what’s on the table for 2019. Today, we discuss Sam Travis.

The Year in a Sentence

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Travis had an insane spring that ultimately translated to a small handful of regular season at-bats at the big-league level.

The Positives

Those spring stats, baby! The only person to have more preseason at-bats was Blake Swihart, who went .242/.284/.485 with them. That’s some nice pop, but it was nothing like Travis’s. Slammin’ Sammy went .270/.313/.635 with 6 friggin’ dongs, at least doubling everyone else on the team except Andrew Benintendi, who managed more. It’s six times as many homers as Travis would hit for the big-league club, where he served as first base depth during and after Mitch Moreland’s injury breaks. POP TRIVIA TIME: Against whom do you suppose Travis hit his sole donger this year? I’ll even spot you that it was against the Indians, and it was in a game Trevor Bauer started, in the third inning. Bauer was working his way back from an injury, and he was already gone. The answer is Shane Bieber. I am elongating the “Positives” portion of this recap so it looks there is more to talk about than there actually is. The biggest positive, for him, is that he’s the Quad-A guy the Sox have around and not someone else. He gets a ring and they don’t.

The Negatives

Travis is “only” 25, but it’s hard to see him grabbing a bigger role than he’s already serving, at least not with Boston. Maybe he could go to Miami and attempt to feast on NL soft-tossers, but that seems about it. The big negative for Travis is that absent a marked improvement at the plate there’s only so long he can pull this off. (The world needs ditch-diggers too.) Maybe if he was a great fielder he’d have a role, but a) he’s not and b) Steve Pearce is now the best-fielding first baseman of all time, apparently, so that niche is filled, as are almost all of them.

The Big Question

One Big Question: Can Sam Travis finally develop his in-game power?

Let’s answer the question with a question: Is the game in March? If so, absolutely!

The Year Ahead

Maybe I’m beingtoo pessimistic here, but barring an injury at first it’s hard to see Travis contributing substantially more than he already does. That he and Swihart were playing so much in the preseason suggests the Sox were seeing what they had, and that Travis did all that and couldn’t get on the field at the major league level is probably not a great sign. To go further, if Travis is out there playing first for any length of time, that’s not a great sign for anyone but him. In that case, if he proves me wrong, I’ll be very happy. I just doubt the Sox would even let him try.