By Cole Shelton
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO - Ever since the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him from the Detroit Tigers for Anthony Gose after the 2014 season, Devon Travis has been forecast to be a top of the order bat for manager John Gibbons.
Unfortunately, the likeable infielder has been plagued by injuries and has had a hard time staying on the field.
But it's now 2018 and Travis is finally healthy and looking good.
Although he is still being held out of games every now and then as a precaution for his knee, he is producing when he is in the lineup and Gibbons has rewarded him by elevating him to the two hole in the batting order, where he has thrived.
Through August 7, Travis is slashing .389/.421/.778 with two home runs and seven RBIs in 18 at-bats when batting second. Compare that to when he is batting first or sixth and it is night and day. When he is batting first, the 27-year-old is slashing just .050/.095/.050 in 20 at-bats, while hitting sixth, he is slashing .125/.125/.125 in just eight at-bats.
No one truly knows why the Florida native has so much success batting second, but Gibbons wished he put him there sooner.
"Shoot, ever since we put him in that two spot, he's rolling," Gibbons said. "He looks like the old guy. We've been waiting on that.”
Gibbons has always thought the second baseman would be an effective hitter near the top of his lineup.
”I’ve always envisioned that," added Gibbons of using Travis as a top-of-the-order bat. "Starting this year, he had a tough start, so it was tough to put him up there ... but we've put him up there, and he just took off. Don't mess with success.”
Don’t mess with success is right, but for Travis it's difficult to explain why he has so much success batting second but hasn't hit well in other spots in the lineup.
The 5-foot-9, 190-pound infielder's success at the plate this season is thanks in part to him not swinging at pitches outside the zone and hitting the ball almost as hard as he ever has in his big league career. Travis is chasing just 28.4% of the time, way down from the 36% in 2016, while his hard hit rate is 37.0% -- the highest it has been since his rookie season in 2015 when it was 37.5%. Put all of this together and Travis is finding some success at the plate.
Travis's defence is also a big part of his game. He has been a regular at second base this season and even though he has made six errors he has helped turn 28 double plays and started 18.
Travis is now finding his hitting stroke batting second with just two months left in the season and with the Blue Jays out of the playoffs, he is just having fun on the baseball field now that the injuries are behind him and he is finally healthy.