Young Travis

No one told Travis Snider it was going to be easy. Hell, it’s never easy for a 21-year-old rookie in the big leagues – even if that 21-year-old starts the season off by hitting .290 with three multi-hit games and his team’s only two-homer game of the season through his first nine games of the year.

The youngster will no doubt experience his share of ups and downs over the course of the lengthy 162-game season this year. The important thing is that he learns – both from his successes and his mistakes. And a great deal of that learning will involve the mental aspect of the game.

sniderTuesday night offered perhaps the first glimpse of proof that Snider is, indeed, a 21-year-old rookie. He didn’t make a serious gaffe in the field, and he certainly didn’t cost the Blue Jays the game – though ace Roy Halladay did suffer his first loss of the year – a 5-4 decision against the visiting Texas Rangers. But there was evidence that Snider will need to tweak his approach just a little bit as this early season progresses.

First the positive … With an 0-1 count in his first at-bat, Snider lifted a soft fly ball to left that went for a leadoff double in the third inning. He later scored Toronto’s first run on an Alex Rios double. But after that, his evening went sour.

Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Snider came up to the plate with two out and Lyle Overbay on second base. The 21-year-old swung at the first pitch he saw – a 78mph Brandon McCarthy changeup – and grounded out to second to end the inning. Following the swing, Snider flung the bat away in disgust, shouted an expletive after he crossed first base, and slammed his helmet off the ground before handing it to first base coach Dwayne Murphy.

Just like the third inning, Snider led off in the seventh – this time with the Blue Jays trailing 5-3. Against a brand new pitcher, Eddie Guardado, Snider swung at the first pitch and fouled it off. He proceeded to foul off two more pitches before popping out to third baseman Michael Young in foul territory. And then he proceeded to break his bat in two by smashing it over his knee in frustration.

In the eighth, Snider came up in a crucial situation. The Jays, trailing by just a run, had the bases loaded with two out when the rookie stepped to the plate. With Frank Francisco on the mound, Snider swung at the first pitch again, this time flying out to centerfielder Josh Hamilton to end the threat.

Travis Snider has a great deal of talent, there’s no question about that. But, just like any other youngster in the big leagues, he’s going to have to gain some experience and continue to learn as the season moves forward. After tonight’s performance, Cito Gaston and Gene Tenace will no doubt sit down with the youngster for a brief chat.

And they’ll likely tell some combination of the following:

1) Don’t live and die with every at-bat. Emotion is a good thing to have, but sometimes younger players get carried away in their effort to prove themselves.

2) See more pitches. In four at-bats tonight, Snider saw a total of eight pitches. If you want to be successful in the big leagues, especially as a youngster, you’ve got to be more disciplined at the plate.

3) Hit your pitch. You’re in the No. 9 spot. You’re likely to see a lot of good pitches, but make sure you don’t get yourself out by swinging at pitches out of your ‘zone.’

Snider is simply too good to not have success in the major leagues. And it’s only a matter of time. Meanwhile, to Blue Jays fans I offer up the following advice: just sit back and enjoy the ride of this talented youngster’s rookie campaign.

4 Responses to “Young Travis”

  1. JC Says:

    Well said. Compare Snider’s unsuccessful 8th inning at bat to Barajas’ unsuccessfull at bat before him. In terms of not getting a hit, Barajas’ certainly had a better at bat showing patience and skill to extend his chances than Snider.

  2. Jay B Says:

    i like what you say for # 1 and 3, but for #2, i’ve read a lot that cito preaches being aggressive early in the count, because he believes that most of the time, the first pitch (the ‘get me over’ fastball) is the best pitch you’ll see in an at bat…you won’t often see aaron hill go too deep into counts, and he’s gonna be a .300 hitter in the majors for yrs to come…vernon wells is something like a .330 career hitter when he puts the first ball in play…josh hamilton swung at 64% of the first pitches he saw last season, and so on…

    like you said, he’s hitting in the 9 hole…the last thing a pitcher wants to do is not throw first pitch strikes, or fall behind 2-0 to the 9 hitter…if you think he should be taking those pitches and hitting from a pitcher’s count, then he’s going to be doing what gary denbo taught, and we all saw the kind of results that that myopic approach yielded…

    if i were a betting man, i’d say cito would sit him down and ask him ‘did you have a plan when you went up there?’, if he answers ‘yes’, he’d ask ‘did that pitch suit your plan’, and if he answers yes again, he’d simply say ‘well then you just missed your pitch, it happens, don’t beat yourself up about it’…from all his interviews, past and present, that’s always been his philosophy…i really don’t thikn he’s concerned with when you take your hacks, as long as you take them on your terms, and not the pitcher’s…

    but this is me talking without ever having played an inning of baseball, and just quoting and interpreting what i’ve read about the situation…

    you, being the baseball player, i look forward to your response…

  3. TD Says:

    I agree with most of what you said. The idea of having a plan at the plate is essential. The only problem is when a player goes after the ‘pitcher’s pitches’ instead of his own.

    The reality is, every pitch probably looks ‘juicy’ to Snider, so he at times goes after pitches that he shouldn’t be. Yes, if he gets a first pitch fastball down the middle of the plate, I don’t know if I ever want him to take that. But he has to make sure he’s only swinging at first pitches like that.

    There’s a reason 2-0, 3-1 are considered hitter’s counts. Averages skyrocket in counts like those, and the more you can get them, the better off you’re going to be. I’m going to check out the stats later today, but I think you’ll see that Adam Lind has seen a ton of pitches this year so far, and I believe it’s played a big role in his early success. I’ll be talking about Lind in a different post as well, so stay tuned …

  4. dreamhost coupon codes Says:

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