One of my favourites, Devon Travis, turns 31 today.
Travis came to the Blue Jays in trade from the Tigers, back on November 13, 2014, with Anthony Gose going to Detroit.
Travis was #84 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects list. Gose had been a disappointment for us. He had a ton of speed, but he hit .247/.315/.363 with 34 stolen bases in 202 games in parts of three seasons. Added in, there were moments of attitude. Sent down to the minors, he had our Triple-A manager Marty Brown irritated with him. After the Jays sent Travis down, he, apparently, sulked.
Travis came in spring training a long shot to make the team. Instead, the team felt that he could use some time in Triple-A. But, to almost no one’s surprise, Maicer Izturis got hurt, and Travis was our second basemen on opening day.
His season started great. He hit .325/.393/.624 in April, getting the AL Rookie of the Month award. But, in mid-May, Devon went on the DL with a shoulder injury. He was back playing in late June, playing 26 games, hitting .357/.402/.488 before reinjuring the shoulder.
He played 62 games and hit .304/.361/.498 with 8 home runs, but he missed out on being part of the Blue Jays’ first time in the playoffs in 22 years.
The shoulder issue carried over to 2016, and, in late April, he started a rehab assignment in the minors. Finally, he came up to the Blue Jays in late May and played out the rest of the season. In 101 games, he hit .300/.332/.454 with 11 home runs. This time, he did play in the playoff, some getting 1 hit in 12 at-bats. But he was battling a bone bruise.
Devon started the 2017 season in the lineup. He had a terrible April, hitting just .130/.193/.195. May went much better, hitting .364/.373/.646, But once again, there was an injury. It was first called a bone bruise on his knee (again), but he ended up having surgery and missed the rest of the season.
Travis got into a career-high 103 games in 2018. But, unfortunately, he had career lows with the bat, hitting just .232/.275/.381. And his defense was about as good as his bat. He finally made it through a season without going on the DL, but I don’t think he was 100% healthy.
In the spring of 2019, Travis had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. He missed the season. After the season, he was outrighted off the Jays roster and elected to become a free agent.
Travis was a favourite of mine. I got a jersey with his name early (sorry, Travis, that seems to be a bad omen). He was the kind of guy who could fall out of bed and hit .300 (if, of course, he didn’t break something in the fall). He had that great line-drive swing. His defense wasn’t Gold Glove level, but he was solid, and he turned a nice quick double play. Sometimes I wonder if the Jays rushed him back to the lineup. I did have moments of not being happy with our training staff during those years.
But, the injuries cost him both on the offensive and defensive side.
Travis seemed like one of the good guys. More then seemed like:
#Bluejays announce that Devon Travis has refused his outright assignment and become a free agent.— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness) November 7, 2019
Maybe the best human I have ever met in the game, here’s hoping he can somehow put the injuries behind him and resume his career in the big leagues.
“What could have been” is a line that belongs in the bio of many, many players. Second base is the wrong position for injury-prone players. It is better than it once was. Base runners targetted the middle infielder. Sliding into the base was secondary before they made some rule changes. But second basemen are facing away from the runner when they take the throw from short or third. Shortstops can get hurt, too (see Tony Fernandez), but they are generally looking in the direction the base runner is coming from and can brace themselves or avoid the runner. Second basemen are defenseless.
Happy birthday, Travis. I hope it is a good one and finds you healthy and happy.