By now, Travis Snider and his rockin' mustache were supposed to be anchoring the middle of the Toronto Blue Jays' lineup. The lefty slugger with the Matt Stairs-like build ranked as Baseball America's sixth-best prospect prior to the 2009 season and raked to the tune of a .306/.379/.522 line in the minors, but he has hit just .248/.307/.423 in parts of four MLB seasons while hampered by a right wrist injury.
Now 24, Snider enters spring training behind Eric Thames in left field and Edwin Encarnacion at DH. With one minor league option year remaining, he's looking at the prospect of another stint at Triple-A Las Vegas. Snider's main issue in the majors to this point -- which might be related to his bum wrist -- is that he's not making contact or driving pitches thrown away.
Take a look at Snider's contact rate by pitch location from 2008-11, compared to the league average for left-handed hitters:
Snider has missed 28% of pitches thrown on the outside corner in the majors, way above the 21% league average for lefty hitters since 2008. And when he does make contact on outside pitches, Snider hasn't inflicted much pain. His .356 slugging percentage on outside offerings is 22 points below the league average for lefty batters.
Travis Snider is far from a lost cause -- he's still young, has a history of hitting for power and has had an offseason to heal from the wrist tendinitis that ended his 2011 campaign. But whether through renewed health or a change in plate approach, he has got to improve against outside pitches if he wants to get back in the Jays' long-term plans.