Sam Travis has been poor against Major League right handed pitching, but has showcased some power in each minor league destination.
Low A-AA 761 AB, 72 XBH, .460 SLG
’16/’17 AAA: 477 AB, 42 XBH, .434/.375 SLG
The drop in extra base hits per AB is only 8.5%, as Sam had zero triples with Pawtucket. He’s likely to improve at the big league level, given his minor league trajectory, and we hope that occurs while he’s a Red Sox. But, Travis has contributed to the boys of summer in three factoring areas:
- Travis actually holds a slightly higher on base %: .346 to .319 over Ramirez, which obviously comes at a much smaller sample size, but it’s unsettling to know Hanley is also last amongst Sox regulars in on OBP. The lack of willingness Hanley has shown to play first base without taking recovery days following a start has highlighted the eagerness and professionalism Sam has provided in his limited role at the position.
- The late inning substitution option, coupled with spot starts from Travis, have allowed Moreland to rest. Mitch is a streaky hitter, however he’s been more productive when getting adequate rest; a bout of offseason R&R netted him the Mitchy Two Bags moniker after doubling 12 times in his first 24 games. His play suffered due to playing through a hairline fracture in mid June when he fouled a pitch off his toe, but Travis took the field in 12 games over the period of June 20th-July 16th, and soon thereafter Moreland returned to form. With the downtime provided for Mitch, he returned to April form and aided the lineup through the entirety of August, where his slugging percentage of .672 was off the charts.
- Travis hits lefties, which his senior positional counterparts have not done. Moreland has one home run on the year vs. southpaws, but that’s not what he was signed to do, so it’s hard to fault him. Ramirez is supposed to be killing lefties, as his .300 career average vs LHP would indicate, but has a paltry .179 avg. against instead. Sam’s stat line goes as such: .381/.458/.500 with five walks, five doubles, eleven runs, and one RBI- all being done in 42 AB’s.
Worth mentioning, defensive metrics have the 23 year old rated slightly higher than Ramirez at the position, not really enough to determine if it would make much of a difference in a three to five game series; but his athleticism is noted, and has totaled 29 steals in minor league ball.
With so many advantages over Ramirez at first, Travis would almost be worth a debate as to if he should hold an ALDS roster spot over the incumbent. But on a team that’s finishing last in the AL in home runs, it’d be asinine to leave Hanley off the roster. There’s no fancy way of looking at this: Hanley Ramirez leads the Red Sox in home runs, and HR per AB.
That being said, I think Sam deserves a role in the divisional series, but may not get it. With Mitch and Han-Ram at the bottom of all Sox regulars in on base percentage, the offensive output has suffered. The power has been mediocre, producing the same amount of home runs as JD Martinez, and mathematically could combine for less RBI’s than Nolan Arenado or Giancarlo Stanton if either National Leaguer completely lights up the final weekend.
If last night was any indication of things to come, Boston will need as many base runners as they can muster to have a shot at advancing to the ALCS. Since Farrell leans towards a short bench, so who would Travis be taking a spot away from? Lin has hardly played in September, Chris Young has had a major decline in production this year, and Holt never really got into the swing of things after the disabled list trips.
There is one positional player you could make a good case for: Deven Marrero, and deservedly so. The Florida native has been terrific in the field, also can get on base against left handers, and is a huge insurance policy considering the injuries to our table setting second basemen. Would John dare go to a five man bench, and bring Nunez, Marrero, Travis, Davis, and Leon? Likely not, as they’ll need their arguably league best bullpen arms against any American League playoff team.
Farrell won’t get himself caught with his pants down; Marrero is the logical choice. In the circumstance that Nunez and Pedroia enter or start the same game, which would behoove of the manager to do if he is inclined to defeat the Astros, that means there is zero infield depth. Worse, if their is an injury or a knee flare up for either Pedey or Eduardo, then now you’re down a player and again, stuck without an infielder on the bench. With Boston’s propriety to extend games past their usual barn burning nine innings, depth is necessary. The final spot will go to D-Mo.