Sports And The City

It was 4-1.

Travis Snider: Still a prospect

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I was going to title this post “Wither Snider?”, until I remembered that everyone — including and especially myself — hates with an incredible passion posts and/or columns that are titled: “Whither ______?” It’s the question mark that¬†really pisses me off. Are you asking me, or telling me?

Anyway, Snider’s Vegas vacation. Everyone is, unsurprisingly, up in arms about the demotion. I didn’t bother counting how many “Snider has nothing left to prove in AAA!” tweets I read yesterday. Far too many. Who said Snider was Vegas bound because he has to prove he can hit AAA-pitching? Nobody. Because he’s done that already. As Alex Anthopoulos confirmed Friday morning, the demotion, like Brett Cecil’s, is about fixing mechanical issues. In Snider’s case, his swing, obviously. And, frankly, I don’t care whether Anthopoulos mentioned Snider’s confidence, or lack thereof, as an issue. Does he look confident at the plate? No, he looks the opposite; he looks lost. While I appreciate the notion that Snider should be allowed to struggle and work out of his funk at the MLB level, especially considering the Blue Jays aren’t going anywhere this season, the belief that that’s something that can be easily done in the AL East is foolhardy. What if Snider continues to scuffle? How might an entire lost season — say, for example, an Aaron Hill 2010-type season — impact a young Snider? I’d rather not find out.

Whether people are willing to accept it or not, Snider remains a prospect. He’s only 23-years-old.¬†While the decision Thursday afternoon certainly came as a surprise, it didn’t come as a surprise-surprise, you know what I mean? Not to me, at least. Not after watching Snider over the past month.

Look at his numbers. They’re God awful. It’s not just Snider’s low BABIP (.238), and his frighteningly low ISO (.080). His LD% (14.1%) is approaching Hill territory. His IFBB% is a Vernon Wellsian 20%. There’s something wrong, a combination of confidence and mechanics. So far in 2011, and this is what concerns me most, it’s fastballs that are giving Snider the most trouble. In only one month — yes, a small sample size — Snider’s hitting fastballs for 5.0 runs below average. In 2008 and 2009, when Snider made the jump to The Show, he hit fastballs for 4.2 and 3.6 runs above average, respectively. As has been pointed out in the Blue Jays blogosphere, Snider’s opposite field power has disappeared. Remember: he’s 23. A trip to Vegas is hardly the end of the world. It just feels that way.

Snider was drafted 14th overall in the 2006 MLB draft, out of high school. Below are Snider’s career MLB numbers — his wOBA, wRC+ and plate appearances — compared with those position players that went before and after him in the same draft, along with their current age in parentheses. For those players who haven’t yet made it to the big leagues, their highest level of baseball is stated.

Evan Longoria (25) — 3rd overall, Tampa Bay — 1846 PA, .376 wOBA, 133 wRC+

Drew Stubbs (26) — 8th overall, Cincinnati — 887 PA, .346 wOBA, 110 wRC+

Billy Rowell (22) — 9th overall, Baltimore — No MLB experience — AA

Tyler Colvin (25) — 13th overall, Chicago NL — No MLB experience — AA

Travis Snider (23) — 14th overall, Toronto — 774 PA, .322 wOBA, 96 wRC+

Chris Marrero (22) — 15th overall, Washington — No MLB experience — AAA

Matt Antonelli (26) — 17th overall, San Diego — No MLB experience — AAA

Chris Parmelee (23) — 20th overall, Minnesota — No MLB experience — AA

Maxwell Sapp (23) — 23rd overall, Houston — No MLB experience — A

Cody Johnson (22) — 24th overall, Atlanta — No MLB experience — AA

Hank Conger (23) — 25th overall, LAA — 78 PA, 319 wOBA, 101 wRC+

Jason Place (22) — 27th overall, Boston — No MLB experience — AA

Preston Mattingly (23) — 31st overall (supplemental), LAD — No MLB experience — A+

Emmanuel Burriss (26) — -33rd overall (supp.), San Francisco — 503 PA, .290 wOBA, 71 wRC+

Kyler Burke (23) — 35th overall (supp.), San Diego — No MLB experience — A+

Chris Coghlan (25) — 36th overall (supp.), Florida — No MLB experience — AAA

Adrian Cardenas (23) — 37th overall (supp.), Philadelphia — No MLB experience — AAA

Draft schmaft, right? Longoria, Stubbs, Snider and Burriss are the only four players drafted in the first round in 2006 who’ve had more than 500 MLB plate appearances. Snider’s the youngest of the four, and the only one of the four who was drafted out of high school. One of those guys listed above is no longer playing professional baseball.

Pardon me for going all Tampa Bay Rays on you for a second, but: “Trust the process.” Snider’s going to be great. Like you, I firmly believe it. It just might take a little longer than we’d all like.

While I know that all Travis Snider and Roy Halladay share in common is that they’re baseball players who’ve played for the Blue Jays, once upon a time, Roy Halladay was sent to A-ball. He worked out just fine.

Snider, too, will be worth the wait.

Image courtesy Ross McDonnell.

Written by Navin Vaswani

April 29th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

9 Responses to 'Travis Snider: Still a prospect'

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  1. This is probably the best justification I’ve read for them sending Snider down. I still don’t agree with it, but we absolutely have to look long term on what Snider will mean to the team down the road.

    Watching him, it’s his struggles with the off speed stuff that give me the most concern- he’s been flailing at curveballs, and then when he adjusts to that, he misses the fastballs. So it may well be mechanical.

    It is a process, and in our immediate reactions, it’s hard to remember that.

    DaveC

    29 Apr 11 at 12:51 pm

  2. Your stance makes it hard to argue your points, you arrogant SOB. hehe. But I do disagree. If his mechanics are a problem and they can’t be fixed at the major league level, then perhaps the Blue Jays need a new batting coach. Whenever I hear such arguments of giving a player like Snider a 70 at bat leash, I always think back to Mike Schmidt. He famously hit .199 his first full season in the majors. He had a pretty good career, to say the least. The only way a young player can break into the game these days is if he performs right away. If he doesn’t, he’s gone. Poof. I don’t think it helps a young player’s confidence any to say that we don’t trust you and you only have two or three weeks to prove yourself.

    William

    29 Apr 11 at 12:57 pm

  3. If this were Travis Snider’s fourth season in the big leagues, I’d be a little worried. But it isn’t – he’s spent portions of 4 seasons with the team, but only has just over a year of service time under his belt.

    I’ll admit, I myself am guilty of holding Snider to a higher standard simply because expectations for him are so astronomically high after so many trips to the DL, minors, etc.

    This is a situation that very much resembles what happened to Alex Gordon. He’s finally starting to hit his stride in his 5th trip with the Royals, so I don’t think we have to worry so much about Snider just yet.

    Ian

    29 Apr 11 at 12:59 pm

  4. Great stuff, I own Snider in a keeper league so I am quite concerned about him.

    I’d trust the process more if I knew what it was. Is this confidence? Mechanical? AA looks like a good GM but I don’t think he’s got a system in the way the Rays do yet – still a lot of learning to come, hopefully not at the expense of Snider’s career.

    At the end of the day, he’s better than either Patterson or Rivera – shouldn’t he be playing?

    Godd Till

    29 Apr 11 at 1:06 pm

  5. I don’t see anything wrong with using AAA as a development league. You know, a place to send players to work on things or a place for players that aren’t quite there yet. I’m not sure why anyone thinks sending Cecil or Snider to an environment where they can concentrate on their issues is a bad thing.

    Mattt

    29 Apr 11 at 1:34 pm

  6. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still wildly confused about the demotion, too. As you guys have pointed out, if it’s a mechanical issue, shouldn’t he be working with the MLB coaches to fix it? And if Snider is hurting the team, as AA says he is, how the hell does anyone — especially AA — justify Jo-Jo Reyes being paraded out to the mound every 5th day?

    Of course Snider’s better than both Patterson and Rivera, and is more a part of the future than both of those guys, so I understand the argument that the Jays should stick with him, and get him those 500 ABs, and a full season under his belt.

    Perhaps it’s a personal issue. Perhaps he’s putting far too much pressure on himself, and the Jays want to get him out of town. Perhaps they feel they’ve rushed him. Yes, he’s proven he can hit in AAA, but he’s had less than 300 ABs down there.

    Like I said, I really don’t know. I think it’s both a mechanics and confidence issue, combined. I think both arguments, to keep him and to send him down, have valid points. Most of all, the Anthopoulos honeymoon, after that BS conference call this morning, looks like it might be over.

    Navin Vaswani

    29 Apr 11 at 1:53 pm

  7. I think it’s mostly mechanics. I cited the same stats you did with regards to his swing. And while MLB hitting coaches are great and all, he’s gotta deal with the best offspeed stuff thrown his way, not let his teammates down (we can sit back and say “rebuilding year!”, but nobody on the team is actually gonna think that way), and completely overhaul his swing. Easier to do that in Vegas with flat fastballs and (non-) breaking balls and no real pressure, so he can get a little worse for a little while and not be tempted to try and muscle his way through a slump.

    Raymond Neilson

    30 Apr 11 at 6:20 pm

  8. I didn’t really understand anything beyond your first paragraph but it was so great that it doesn’t really matter.

    Meredith

    30 Apr 11 at 9:26 pm

  9. Thanks for the reality check, Navin. Boy is it easy to forget just how crazy young Travis was when we first saw him! That said I really hope it doesn’t take more than a couple weeks for him to sort out what they wanted, and he can get back where he belongs.

    Patrick

    1 May 11 at 1:33 am

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