Post-hype Hope: Travis Snider

It wasn’t long ago that Travis Snider was considered one of the top hitting prospects in all of baseball.  Hitting .248/.307/.423 in 877 plate appearances, as a corner outfielder that’s not considered an asset defensively, isn’t a good way to hold a starting job in the majors.  After losing a battle for the left field job in the spring, the Blue Jays organization decided it was best to send him to Triple-A to receive steady playing time, and attempt to correct some of his hitting flaws.  He has been putting together an excellent season for Las Vegas, but when Jose Bautista hit the disabled list, the team bypassed Snider in favor of his teammate Anthony Gose.  Alas, it appeared Snider had completely fallen out of favor with the Blue Jays’ brass, and that a change of scenery may be necessary for him to get another shot in the bigs.  Not so fast, some Thursday night happenings had Twitter buzzing.

Snider smacked a home run in his first at-bat of Thursday night’s game.  It would prove to be his only at-bat of the game.  Las Vegas batted around in the second inning, an inning in which Snider lead off, but Snider found himself lifted for pinch hitter Moises Sierra.  The home run was Snider’s third in the last two days, as he drilled two on Wednesday night as part of a 4-for-5 effort.  This is the type of scorching play that leads to speculation of a decision to promote Snider coming down from the top.  As of writing this, nothing has come out whether that’s the case or not, but it is fun to think about, and reasonable to speculate on.  Snider is clobbering the ball this year, hitting .285/.423/.598 after adding in 246 plate appearances if you include Thursday night’s blast.  Power has rarely come into question when discussing Snider.  Even amidst his struggles in the show, he showcased his power at times.  In 2010 he hit 14 home runs in 319 plate appearances, which helped him sport a very good .208 isolated slugging (ISO).  Unfortunately, he was unable to follow up his 2010 power display last year.  He struggled mightily, and would end up tallying more plate appearances in the minors than the majors.

One criticism regularly directed at Snider was that he had a poor approach, not walking often enough, and striking out too much.  His improvements to both rates are very promising, and provide hope that he may be able to make the most of his next opportunity in the bigs.  He has worked walks at a robust 13.8 percent clip, and is striking out in just 17.1 percent of his plate appearances.  Can these changes stick in the majors?  Perhaps they can.  While it feels like Snider has been around forever, he’s only 24 years old.  To put that in perspective, Jason Kipnis and Desmond Jennings are 25 years old.  It’s too early to give up on Snider.  Owners in AL-only leagues and large mixed leagues starting five outfielders and bench flexibility should add Snider and see what comes of him being pulled from Thursday’s game.