clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Daily Red Sox Links: Will Sam Travis ever hit a MLB home run?

New, comments

Sam Travis is a top prospect still, but his lack of developing power is dampening his standing. Plus Triston Casas has jokes, the AL East standings are weird and Matt Barnes is pitching better.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

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

This is a post for all the card-carrying members of the Sam Travis Bandwagon. I’m glad you could all make it. There are Oreos and peach iced tea in the back. Help yourselves.

Now to business. Sam Travis is the No. 10 prospect in the Red Sox’s organization according to SoxProspects.com and he’s just 24-years-old. He’s a player that still has potential and even as Mitch Moreland hits like a modern day Mo Vaughn, the Sox don’t have a ton of depth at first base. Travis’ day could still very well come. He’s already on the 40-man roster and due to some injuries to Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, he’s back with the MLB squad. But eventually, Travis has to become more than just a guy that provides depth or else be doomed to a career of minor league stops and occasional call-ups.

Most teams want their first basemen to hit for power. Unless you are a big James Loney person, you’re expecting the regular guy to swat dingers and drive in runs. If you are tired of this trope, that’s fine, but its how rosters are generally constructed. Travis is a first baseman and, although he can play outfield, his primary position isn’t likely to change for the long term. The problem is, Travis has not developed the type of power expected of a player in his situation. For a guy who hit 31 home runs in college, Travis has managed only 32 in five seasons of professional baseball, which has featured 1,361 at-bats. He had 721 as an Indiana Hoosier.

Of course, the pitchers he is facing in the minors are better than those in the college ranks, but there’s no real indication that Travis is about to have a power surge. He has hit four home runs this season with Pawtucket, slashing .220/.290/.358 in the process. If he’s not hitting for average or power, he’s in trouble. But taking a whole look at his work in the minors, he has hit .288 and gotten on base at a 35.4 percent clip. That’s pretty good. Unfortunately, by slugging just .427 he has a career OPS of .784. That’s not pretty good.

Travis made his first MLB appearance of the season on Sunday, pinch-hitting for J.D. Martinez in the top of the ninth inning. He made the most of that chance, lacing a two-run single to center field. Prior to that hit, he had managed all of one RBI in 83 MLB plate appearances. RBIs are a maligned statistic for good reason, since it relies so heavily on the players ahead of you, but that’s still a pretty small total even given the minuscule sample size.

But at least he has one RBI in that time. He does not have one home run. Not even one, while only six of 21 career hits have gone for extra-bases, equating to a slugging percentage of .351 and an OPS+ of 79.

Clearly we are dealing with small sample sizes here, but if you include the context of Travis’ minor league work, it paints the picture of a competent hitter but not one who is finding his power swing. Maybe Travis will join the launch angle revolution and render this entire post mute. Or maybe he won’t. What we know is he needs to start hitting for more power or else this bandwagon is going to find a permanent parking spot in Pawtucket.

Even without Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox found ways to get production and compete with Houston. (Julian Benbowl; Boston Globe)

Triston Casas was selected in the first round by the Red Sox and he began his career by giving Pablo Sandoval the business. (Scott Polacek; Bleacher Report)

Alex Speier dives into the math behind the odd standings in the AL East. (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)

Chad Jennings takes on this odd topic as well. (Chad Jennings; The Athletic) ($$)

Matt Barnes is executing on his pitches and its showing. (Julian Benbow; Boston Globe)

Obviously there are things the Red Sox need to improve on but they are still a fun team to follow. (Steve Buckley; Boston Herald)

Hanley Ramirez will play again. (Nick Cafardo; Boston Globe)