Devon Travis isn’t the prospect the Toronto Blue Jays—or anyone else—expected to take the league by storm. Yet here we are, a month into the 2015 campaign, and the slugging second baseman is showing no signs of slowing down.

Travis smacked another home run Sunday, a grand slam no less, giving him seven on the year. Pair that with 23 RBI and a .997 OPS and you have the makings of a legitimate breakout season.

“The kid’s good. What are you going to say, he’s been doing it all year,” manager John Gibbons said Sunday, per‘s Jordan Bastian and August Fagerstrom. “It’s not like he’s on a little hot streak. … I think he’s a pretty special find for us.”

Travis, remember, came to the Blue Jays this winter in a trade that sent outfielder Anthony Gose to the Detroit Tigers. At the time, he had never played an inning above Double-A.

In February, ESPN‘s Keith Law left Travis off his list of the top 10 Blue Jays prospects and called the 24-year-old “a below-average fielder with an ugly hack.”

Ugly or no, he hacked his way to a .359 spring average, made the Opening Day roster and hasn’t looked back.

The question now: Can it last?

There are reasons to be skeptical. In 257 minor league games, Travis averaged about one home run every 34 at-bats. During his brief big league tenure, he’s upped that to about one home run every 13 at-bats.

And his .328 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) leaves room for regression.

So there’s a case to be made that Travis is an April anomaly, a guy playing above his pay grade who will come back to Earth when opposing pitchers adjust.

Ah, but where’s the fun in that? We’re talking about a 5’9″ second baseman who came out of nowhere to crush baseballs like a big boy. Can’t Toronto fans—and the rest of us—dream a little?

Make no mistake: Travis’ home runs have been unexpected, but they haven’t been cheap, as FanGraphs‘ Jeff Sullivan demonstrated using StatCast data:

At the moment, 146 players have hit at least 30 balls that’ve been captured by StatCast. On average, they’ve hit the ball 88.5 miles per hour. Travis has averaged 91.6 miles per hour, 30th in the sample and just short of one standard deviation above the mean. Travis ranks in second place among second basemen and third place among middle infielders, and I should note StatCast has missed three of his six dingers. Some averages of note: Nelson Cruz has averaged 91.7 miles per hour. Mike Trout, 91.4.

For now, there are no answers when it comes to Travis—just a lot of intriguing questions.

As ESPN‘s David Schoenfield notes, Travis seems to prefer pitches on the inner part of the plate, so pitchers may start working him away. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Toronto’s new mashing middle infielder will have to make his share.

Count Gibbons among the believers. “One thing he’s got that’s advanced for a young guy is he’s got a great approach at the plate, he doesn’t chase out of the zone much,” the Jays skipper told Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun. “He’s got the ability to foul off tough pitches to stay alive and a lot of guys can’t do that.” 

Bottom line: Travis may not have been the rookie sensation the Blue Jays expected, but he’s the one they got—and they’ll certainly take it.


All statistics current as of May 4 and courtesy of unless otherwise noted. 

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