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The season that was: Travis Shaw

A look at Shaw’s 2020 season

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

The Blue Jays signed Travis Shaw to a 1-year contract at the end of December last year. He was coming off a terrible season with the Brewers, hitting just .157/.281/.270 with 7 home runs in 86 games.

The two seasons he hit a combined 63 home runs, so the team thought it was worth the money to see if he could bounce back. If he could get back to being the 3.5 WAR player he was before 2019, he would be a bargain at $4 million. Even getting half that number would make it a bargain.

It didn’t happen:

Standard Batting
50 180 163 17 39 10 0 6 17 0 0 16 50 .239 .306 .411 .717 95
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2020.

Baseball Reference has him at a 0.0 WAR. FanGraphs has him at 0.2 WAR.

Travis had a .310 wOBA and a 95 wRC+.

His walk rate was down from last year (8.9% from 13.3) and his strikeout rate was also down (27.8% from 33.0).

His line drive rate was much the same as last year (21.9% from 22.1), ground balls were up a bit (30.7% from 28.6) and fly balls were down a bit (47.4% from 49.3). A few more of his fly balls left the park (11.1% from 10.1).

He had less soft contact (13.2% from 18.4) and his hard contact was down too (28.9% from 35.5). So the medium contact was up.

Travis’ BABIP was up from a very low .216 last year to .306 this year.

He hit LHP (.295/.326/.409) better than RHP (.218/.299/.412). But he only had 46 PA vs left-handers. Career he his much better vs RHP.

With RISP he got on base well (.206/.378/.294).

He hit much better in Buffalo (.264/.325/.444) than on the road (.220/.290/.385).

Shaw by month:

  • July: .333/.500/.500 in 2 games.
  • August: .205/.275/.325 with 3 home runs in 24 games.
  • September: .270/.321/.500 with 3 home runs in 24 games.

So September was much better than I remember.

Defense? Travis played 275 innings at third base. He made 2 errors, for a .977 FA. UZR had him at a 3.6 UZR/150. But Outs Above Average had him at a -1.

And he played 72 innings at first base. He made 1 error for a .986 FA. UZR has him at a 7.7, but that’s a very small sample size.

I thought he played better defense at third than anyone else we had. And was likely our best at first as well.

Shaw was -2.9 runs compared to the average base runner. We didn’t have many players on the positive side as base runners.

Where he hit in the lineup:

3rd: 18 games.

4th: 1 game.

5th: 4 games.

6th: 8 games.

7th: 9 games.

8th: 2 games.

Charlies liked him in the 3rd spot, especially early in the season.

He’s a free agent again. I’m not sure he’ll be getting a $4 million contract again. But I guess, if you could get him cheap, he might be a good utility player/defensive replacement.

He did have a much better year than in 2019, but still didn’t hit enough for a corner infielder.

If we could replace Shaw on the roster with a good defensive shortstop and move guys around to improve the infielder defense, I would be happy. Travis was a 0 WAR player, we could easily find a good defensive SS who could do better than that. I think, improving the infield’s defense would make our pitching look better.

Travis seems like a good guy and seems like a good teammate, which is all fine, but I would rather a guy that could help us out on the scoreboard.


I would grade Travis Shaw’s 2020 season a

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