I’m not going to pretend that there hasn’t been a lot of Travis Snider love in these pages lately– too much, most likely– or that I didn’t feel slight pangs of guilt when it was tweeted at me this weekend that Eric Thames had said on the radio that he doesn’t “care what bloggers think” about where the battle between him and Snider stands so far.

Honestly, as much as I’m still in the tank for the tantalizing promise Snider once showed, I’d genuinely love to see Eric Thames take the ball and run with it and succeed– and I don’t think he’s incapable. It’s just… well… it’s just stuff like this:

ESPN is ranking the top 500 players in baseball, and today came out with the bottom 100 of their list. Riffing on that was Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory and the ZiPS projection system, who singled out seven players who could potentially be the the next Jose Bautista (Insider only). In other words, “some of the second-tier prospects and youngish journeymen who sit in the 401-500 range who still have a chance of really surprising, much like Bautista did in 2010.”

Marc Rzepczynski makes the list– much to what I’m sure is the delight of our friend Drew from over at Getting Blanked– but the first name mentioned ranked at number 475 on the Top 500 (below Eric Thames, it should be noted), Travis Snider.

“After hitting .301/.338/.466 during a cup of coffee stint at age 20 in 2008, 2009 was supposed to be Snider’s big breakout,” Szymborski writes. “Then 2010. Then 2011. The calendar’s turned yet again, and the Jays are still waiting for Snider to force his way into the heart of a solid Jays lineup. While there’s a natural inclination to give up on Snider, he just turned 24. ZiPS, for one, has soured considerably on Snider, but on the upside, still thinks he can develop into a Kevin Mitchell-type hitter in the best-case scenario. Mitchell had a better first experience in the majors, but had setbacks of his own, such as repeating Triple-A after a rough season with the Tidewater Tides in 1984. And remember, Mitchell was National League MVP in 1989.”

OK, so maybe it’s not quite the Mickey Mantle comparison some Globe and Mail commenter wants to put on Brett Lawrie’s head, but Mitchell was no slouch, putting up 31.1 wins in a career that spanned parts of 13 seasons. He was worth four wins four times, including a 4.2 fWAR in the strike-shortened 1994 season, and 7.1 fWAR in his ’89 MVP campaign. He also was in the three win neighbourhood an additional three times.

So… not a career to be scoffed at by a long stretch.

Also, this:

 

For Snider? Fuckin’ eh, I’ll take it. Since, y’know, right now we’re staring down the barrel of pretty much shit all.

Comments (48)

  1. Yes well, this time last year the WSJ came out with a list of players who might become the new Bautista:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704463804576291463593066074.html

    One of them was Edwin Encarnacion.

    Remember how well that turned out? And don’t bother to tell me he was great in the stretch. He stunk up the entire field for the first 60% of the season and didn’t hit for shit.

    • The only reason to not tell you he was very good for the last four months (read: 66% of the season) is because you won’t fucking listen anyway. (OK, so maybe he cooled in September, he still spent 50% of the year as a WELL above average hitter: wOBAs of .363 in June, .398 in July and .414 in August).

      Sorry, but just because you don’t want these things to be facts doesn’t make them not facts.

      • Isn’t that no better than taking out a pitcher’s worst 5 starts out of his 32 and then saying he was great?

        At the end of the day, Edwin had a .344 wOBA and 1.5 fWAR. Those stats barely even sneeze at Bautista’s breakout .422 wOBA and 6.8 fWAR.

        Should point out too that he played 38 more games in 2011 than in 2010 and posted the same WAR.

        • Seeing as they’re a once in a generation thing, I think Bautista’s numbers aren’t so much a specific benchmark. It’s more about the idea of a breakout out of nowhere.

          And no, it would be like taking the 16 worst starts out of a pitcher’s 32 and saying he was great.

          But not even quite that, because if the 16 starts come at random points on the calendar, it’s not quite the same as having 3 to 4 very good months in a row.

          So… actually it’s kinda not like that at all.

          • I thought I’d be conservative with 5, but you’re right if it’s to be correctly measured, it’s ½ the starts.

            As for the Bautista benchmark, I only used it because of the information isabella provided.

            If Edwin can post a 3 fWAR–something he can achieve if his UZR gets back to the -1.0 to -2.0 range–that would be a steal for the Jays.

            Him being in LF would be a complete disasterpiece though. There’s versatility, then there’s E5.

          • Folks… at $3.5m E5 is a bargain when he produces 1.5 fWAR. If he goes 3 WAR like Indestructible suggests, he is a massive steal.

            UZR won’t be his problem this year: the -17.5 runs DH adjustment factor will. 2 WAR for a pure DH is pretty damn good, even at 2X his current pay.

    • Yeah, Encarnacion was a good hitter last year and proved to be well worth what the Jays invested in him. I’m not sure I understand the hate. No, he didn’t become the “next Bautista,” but nobody is ever going to be the next Bautista. Guys generally don’t go from journeymen to elite hitters in the majors in the middle of their careers.

      • Hopefully Edwin can have a big year without having to worry about playing defense too often. An .850-.900 ops from the DH spot would be pretty sweet.

      • Totally agree BFF.
        Bautista an extremely special case.

        His leadership is an added bonus.Hanley Ramirez is a fan.
        “Ramirez credits being in better shape this spring to working out in the Dominican Republic with a couple of big leaguers. The biggest star to give Ramirez a push in the gym was Toronto slugger Jose Bautista.

        “He works hard,” Ramirez said. “I think that’s what I needed in my life, somebody like that who is an inspiration for me.”

      • How about Encanacion as the every day first baseman, give Lind away (if you can find someone). Edwin gets the job done defensively and a better bat in the lineup every day

        • I don’t think you were paying attention last year. EE wasn’t very good at first base either. There were a few disasterfucks that immediately come to mind. He seems to bat his best when he doesn’t have a glove to also worry about.

          • EE is suited to the DH role perfectly. Ye, he can fill in at 1B, 3B or LF but these are just short term inter-league measures.

            Like Boston want Ortiz in the line-up and I remember them playing him at 1B a couple of times. He’s not going to hurt you much in a game here or there but you don’t want him in the field every day.

            He’s very capable of an OPS around 0.900 for a season, that puts him in the top 2 or 3 DH’s in the league.

          • Lind has to go, so you can have EE, Cooper, McDade, wait for AA to make a trade, move Bautista to 1st and keep Snider in right. EE has the job….make the move now and challenge for a playoff in August.

          • Oh yeah, by the way EE was a pleasent surprise at first last year….his defensive lapses are at 3rd

    • I was wondering where you’ve been lately.

  2. Snider will never be Kevin Mitchell if he doesn’t drastically cut down on his K rate.(26.9% career). Mitchell by comparison had a career K rate of 15.3%. I hope he goes back down to AAA this spring and really really works on that aspect of his game. With his kind of power it would be a shame to ultimately waste it unless a team is happy with a Mark Reynolds all or nothing type player which Snider seems to be developing into.

    • Snider also adds a dimension that Reynolds might provide negative value in: defense.

    • Reynolds also has a career 11.5 BB%, and Snider has a 7.5%. If Snider can improve his strike zone judgement then I will have some hope that he could be the next break out star. Otherwise I see Snider as a player with Jose Guillen type upside.

  3. Mark Reynolds would have had the second best wOBA on the 2011 Jays. He’s not GREAT, and you’re not wrong that it would be a shame if that’s all Snider could ever do, but being Reyonlds at the plate and himself in the field would be far from the worst thing.

    • Agreed, it wouldn’t the worst thing but it does limit the ceiling quite a bit at least if you listen to some of the fanboys talk about what he’ll eventually be. It’s just sad that his progression got so fucked up. Some of it’s his fault with his attitude at times and some of it is surely the organizations fault. The way I look at it is if he’s going to be a prime piece going forward I’d rather him spend one more year in AAA and work the kinks out if he can. Show he can cut down his strikeouts and take more walks. Better to perform well as a 25 or 26 year old than muddle along as a 24 year old and stunt his career any further.

      • How do you possibly know what his attitude was?

        • How do you possibly know the organization’s use of him affected his career path?

        • There’s been plenty of reports over the years that his attitude at times was less than stellar at accepting coaching.

          • Couldn’t that be a euphemism for “I’m shitting on him and he doesn’t like it?”

          • I do remember writers who gave the impression that he had a bad attitude to coaching. But I think the truth was more that there was a point he needed to coaches to back off a little, because he was being twisted in too many directions and was trying to do way too much at once. He needed to go back to the basics, and the is legitimate if you ask me.

  4. Who were the other six?

  5. Could Snider be the next Bautista?

    Amy Nelson’s and Peter Keating’s proposed response:

    “Well, there’s always the chance that a given player could suddenly break out and tap into their potential. Of course, it’s more logical to conclude Snider has a higher chance of breaking out because of the man in the white shirt. Ignore Arencibia’s mendoza-line .200 BA.”

  6. I snagged Snider with my second-to-last pick for fantasy because the kid has mondo power and speed, and that he’s performed well this spring just locked it home.

    If, of course it’s always if, but if Snider finally begins to play as he’s capable, Toronto’s line-up will be simply lethal.

  7. He already has better numbers than Sil Campusano…

  8. I don’t think we’ll see another player come out of the 1970′s wood panelling like Jose Baustista did in our lifetime.

    On another note, regarding a previous post about Thames not caring about blogging and the race for left field, I say this. I’d bet my left mangled nut ball that modern day, social media savvy players ARE reading these websites more than we think. Why, because it is close to the truth that a true fan can be, outside hearing what Yankee fans think of your mom while standing in right field. I want Thames to do well too, if that means for another team than so be it. Seems like a great guy The Ladies Man.

    • Meh. I believe Thames doesn’t care. The bloggers don’t make the decisions.

    • Yeah, the Jose Bautista comp is overly optimistic.

      I think we can look at Nelson Cruz as a more realistic comparable for Snider. Cruz bounced between AAA and the majors for awhile despite showing flashes of great play and having some great tools. Traded to Texas, he began to show form during his age 27 and 28 seasons.

  9. Fuck Travis Snider. And fuck Eric Thames. Trade them both for Jayson Heyward.

    Frank Wren proclaimed at the end of last year that Heyward would have to earn his roster spot. Well, he’s hitting 200/231/360 so far with 15 strikeouts to 2 walks. That is not earning a roster spot. Frank Wren also attempted to acquire a LF upgrade and it never materialized. Now when Chipper goes down, Prado will move to 3B and Hinske is the LF. Unacceptable.

    All Alex needs is some attitude issues from Heyward to emerge and it’s a done deal.

  10. Snider is, and always will be, an emotional decision.

  11. if any ‘battle’ for LF actually existed in the first place, thames has certainly (it seems) ‘done enough’ to keep the job that was proclaimed as being his from the get-go. whether that’s fair or not is debatable, since there’s little that snider could have done in such a short sample to ‘win’ the job (maybe not SO as much, but whatever).

    what i don’t get is why thames hasn’t been tried out at 1b, simply to see if he’d be any less of a disaster there (vs. LF)…and if he’s actually competent (i.e. only a marginal downgrade from lind, who’ll never be mistaken for a gold glover), and if his bat is so valuable to the club that they’d be willing to jettison snider…then why not have a look at him as a replacement over lind? or is the idea of him at 1b so bad (based on his play in LF) that that idea wouldn’t even be floated?

  12. fuck that yank

  13. i’m gonna throw out another name. Tim Salmon. Salmon struggled in his initial Angels debut as well as a couple of injury marred years in the minors before finally putting it together in his age 24 season and winning Rookie of the Year. I distinctly remember the Angels being unhappy with his progress and sending him out for nearly a full year in Edmonton the year prior.

  14. Give it until 2013 or late 2012 when the question becomes Snider/Thames/Gose/Rasmus for two outfield spots. If Gose increases his OBP due to being allowed to bunt again and take protective swings on a two strike count (according to Gose) then Snider might have another hurdle to climb. Power is great but so is OBP when you can wreck havoc on the base paths and play gold glove defense. I hope Gose is banging on the door by September, bring the Rickey Henderson triple back to Toronto with Gose.

  15. Can Snider play CF (not sure where he has typically played in minors)? If so, maybe the battle should be for CF. Everyone keeps saying Rasmus will turn it around, but so far this spring he is picking up exactly where he left off last season. I really hope he can turn it around, but I am getting less and less hopeful.

    May help to have someone behind him pushing him.

  16. Snider has a good chance to be AA’s first big mistake if the Jays give up on him and he goes somewhere and hits 32 home runs with 110 rbi’s and bats .295. I’m not saying that will happen. I’m just saying it could happen. If it does happen. I’ll finally be convinced that Cito Gaston is the anti-Christ.

  17. check out how Mr. Draybek is doing against the lowley oiliolies. yeah….we should DEFINITELY replace Cecil with Draybek right off the bat…..

    not to say i’m not hopeful for Draybek…both today and going forward. But until Cecil actually stumbles, I’ll take him over Draybek for beginning of the season, thanks very much.

  18. Did anyone else notice #494 on the list…

    Mr Vernon Wells…$23M reasons to love that one…discuss

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