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Travis d'Arnaud

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Travis Emmanuel d'Arnaud
(Little d')

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Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Travis d'Arnaud is the brother of Chase d'Arnaud. He was one of the players obtained by the Toronto Blue Jays, along with Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor, in the trade of Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2010 season. He had been a supplemental first round pick by the Phillies in the 2007 amateur draft (37th overall) out of Lakewood (CA) High School in Lakewood, CA.

D'Arnaud was signed by scout Tim Kissner and made his professional debut with the GCL Phillies in 2007, hitting. 241 in 41 games. In 2008, he hit .309 in 48 games for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League, earning a promotion to the Lakewood Blue Claws of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .297 in 16 games. He showed good power, with 18 doubles and 6 homers between the two stops. He was back at Lakewood in 2009, playing 126 games during which he hit .255/.319/.419 with 38 doubles and 13 homers. He made his first appearance on Baseball America's top 100 prospect list after that season, at #81. That's when the Blue Jays made his acquisition and sent him to the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League in 2010. His season was cut short by an injury, and he managed only 7 games, hitting .259, but with 20 doubles. In spite of the shortened season, he climbed significantly up the prospect list, ending at #36.

Travis d'Arnaud, playing for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, was honored with the Eastern League's Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. He had a breakout year at the plate that season, hitting .313 in 109 games with 32 doubles and 19 homers, scoring 70 runs and driving in 71. In 2012, he hit .333 in 67 games for the AAA Las Vegas 51s, with 21 doubles, 16 homers and 52 RBI when his season ended prematurely because of an injury which prevented him from making his major league debut that year. On December 17th, he was the key player acquired by the New York Mets when they dealt Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey and their two main catchers, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas, to the Blue Jays. D'Arnaud was seen as the Mets' catcher of the future, with veteran John Buck also headed to New York in the deal, along with two pitching prospects, Wuilmer Becerra and Noah Syndergaard. D'Arnaud began the 2013 season at Triple-A Las Vegas, which was by now the Mets' top minor league affiliate, but with the understanding that the Mets intend to call him up around mid-season, or sooner, to take over for Buck who was the starting catcher in New York when the season opened. However, he suffered a setback in mid-April when he fractured a bone in his left foot, the result of a foul ball. He did return to make his big league debut before the end of the season, on August 17th and hit .202 in 31 games that first season.

D'Arnaud moved into the job of starting catcher for the Mets in 2014 and had a very solid rookie season, being named to the 2014 Topps All-Star Rookie Team. In 108 games, he hit .242 with 22 double, 13 homers, 48 runs scored and 41 RBIs. While his production with the bat was impressive, his play behind the dish was even better, as the Mets put together an excellent season on the mound and finished in a surprising tie for second place in the NL East. Travis and the Mets were off to a great start in 2015, as he was hitting .317 after 11 games when he suffered a fractured hand on April 19th after being hit by a pitch thrown by the Miami Marlins' A.J. Ramos. he came back in June, but played only 8 games before heading back to the DL, and finally returned to stay on July 31st. In his absence, his replacement, rookie Kevin Plawecki, had played well, and the Mets were in first place, which meant he was no longer the undisputed starter. However,he quickly outplayed the rookie and was again the main man behind the plate by the end of the season. In 67 games, he hit .268 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He was also praised for his excellent handling of the team's young pitchers as New York ran away with a division title. He went 3 for 19 (.158) but with a homer and 4 RBIs as the Mets defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, then 4 for 15 with a pair of homers in a sweep of the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS. He then struggled in the World Series, like most of his teammates, being limited to 3 hits in 21 at-bats (.143) by the Kansas City Royals.

After a slow start in 2016, he was placed on the disabled list on April 26th because of a strain in his throwing shoulder. The injury kept him out of action for almost two months, until June 21st and limited him to 75 games for the season. He never found his hitting stroke, being limited to a .247 average with 4 homers and 15 RBIs, equivalent to an OPS+ of only 70. As a result, he did not play in the Wild Card Game as Rene Rivera was behind the plate for the Mets' loss to the San Francisco Giants. He was back as the starting catcher in 2017, however, and on April 13th was the hero of the longest game yet played at Marlins Park, when the Mets defeated the Miami Marlins, 9-8 in 16 innings. In getting a career-high four hits, he tripled with the bases loaded in the 2nd, then homered off Adam Conley's first pitch in the 16th to give his team its winning margin. On August 16th, he was pressed into starting a game at third base, because the Mets were missing two infielders, Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores, both injured. Problem was, Travis had never played the position professionally, so manager Terry Collins got creative, switching d'Arnaud and second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera every time a righthanded batter came to the plate, to minimize the risk of a ground ball being actually hit to the improvized infielder. The two switched positions 18 times during the game against the New York Yankees, making for a rather unusual boxscore, as d'Arnaud was listed as "3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b-2b-3b". He played a career-high 112 games that season, hitting .244 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs. His being generally healthy was ironic, given that the Mets were absolutely devastated by injuries that season and were never in competition as a result.

In 2018, he went on the disabled list for the fifth straight season when an MRI in early April discovered a torn ligament in his elbow. He was placed on the disabled list on April 11th as the Mets contemplated whether or not he should undergo season-ending surgery. He was 3-for-15 (.200) in 4 games when he went down. He did not return that year, but in 2019 made the team at the start of the season as the primary back-up for newly-signed Wilson Ramos. However, he had a nightmarish game on April 27th when he was charged with a passed, made a throwing error and then a baserunning blunder all in one game against the Milwaukee Brewers. he was booed roundly by the hometown fans at Citi Field and was designated for assignment the next day. He was just 2 for 23 in 10 games. On May 5th, he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He appeared in just one game for his new team before being on the move again, as he was purchased by the Tampa Bay Rays on May 10th. The Rays had just placed two catchers on the injured list in Mike Zunino and Michael Perez. He found his bat with the Rays as he hit .274 in June, then was red hot at the start of July. On July 15th, he accounted for all 5 Rays runs in a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees at New Yankee Stadium. He had already hit two solo homers when he faced closer Aroldis Chapman with two on and two out in the 9th and the Rays trailing, 4-2. He hit his third long ball of the night for a dramatic 5-4 win; he also had a pair of walks in the game, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances as the Rays' lead-off hitter. He closed off the week on July 21st by hitting a grand slam off Dylan Cease of the Chicago White Sox that accounted for all 4 of Tampa Bay's runs in a 4-2 win. He finished the season at .263 in 93 games for Tampa, with 16 homers and 67 RBIs. He was the starter for all 6 of Tampa's postseason games, going 2 for 19 and serving as the clean-up hitter in the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series against the Houston Astros, which the Rays lost.

Following the season, on November 25th, he cashed in his bounce-back season by signing a $16 million two-year deal as a free agent with the Atlanta Braves. He took over as the starting catcher for Atlanta during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, appearing in 44 of the team's 60 games and batting .321 with 9 homers and 34 RBIs for an OPS+ of 139 - easily a career best. He won the Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting catcher in the National League. In the postseason, he was outstanding in the Division Series against the Miami Marlins, batting .600 with 2 doubles and 2 homers but was limited to going 4 for 23 without an extra-base hit in the Braves' loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS. In 2021, he was out for over three months with a left thumb sprain that came in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on [[May 1]st - ironically the same game in which his back-up, Alex Jackson was also injured. He finally returned on August 11th (he is also credited with a game played on July 21st, but that was a suspended game against the San Diego Padres, and he only entered the game after it was resumed on September 24th). He was hitting .220 with 2 homers and 11 RBIs in 23 games when he was injured, and had similar stats in his 37 games after returning, a .221 average with 5 homers and 15 RBIs, although his OBP and slugging percentage both improved. Still, his overall production was disappointing with a .220 average in 60 games and an OPS+ of 74. He also did not do much with the bat in the first two rounds of the postseason, but redeemed himself in the World Series against the Houston Astros when he batted .292 with a double and 2 homers, scored 4 runs and drove in 2 as the Braves won only their second title since moving to Atlanta.

He started off 2022 hitting much better than the previous season, even if the Braves as a team were the victims of a collective hangover after their triumph the previous October, staying around .500 for the first two months. On June 2nd, he had a career day against the Colorado Rockies, as he hit a pair of homers, a two-run shot and a grand slam, the second of his career, collecting 6 RBIs in a three-hit game, to lead Atlanta to a 13-6 win. He hit .268 in 107 games that season, with a career-best 18 homers and 60 RBIs, ending up with an OPS+ of 117. He was named to the All-Star team for the first time (alongside catching partner William Contreras, who also made the team as a DH. He went 6 for 16 with 3 doubles and 2 homers in the Division Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, but his superhuman performance was in vain as the Braves were upset in four games.

Before the 2023 season, the Braves traded Contreras but acquired another catcher in Sean Murphy, cutting significantly into Travis's playing time. However, he still took advantage of the opportunities he had to play. On June 16th, he homered twice in an 8-1 win over the Colorado Rockies; the first of the two long balls was the 100th homer of his career. He hit .225 in 74 games with 11 homers and 39 RBIs for an OPS+ of 82. In the postseason, he went 1 for 7 with his only hit a homer as the Braves were defeated by the Philadelphia Phillies in the Division Series. In 2024, Murphy was hurt in the early going pushing d'Arnaud in a starting role, at least temporarily. On April 19th, he had the second three-homer game of his career, with one of the long balls being a grand slam, to lead Atlanta to an 8-3 win over the Texas Rangers. He was just the fourth catcher in Braves history to have a three-homer game, the last having been Dale Murphy in 1979, and the third in MLB history to have two such games, after Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Gary Carter.

D'Arnaud's brother Chase was caught stealing just three times while in the South Atlantic League in 2009, but two of these were by Travis in May.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Associated Press: "Rays' d'Arnaud making most of chance to jumpstart career", USA Today, August 8, 2019. [1]
  • Mark Bowman: "'Tonight was about Travis': d'Arnaud steals show with 3-homer day: Braves catcher becomes 3rd Atlanta player since 1901 to hit a grand slam in a 3-homer game",, April 20, 2024. [2]
  • Mark Feinsand: "'Guys look up to him': d'Arnaud dedicated to craft",, March 16, 2023. [3]

Related Sites[edit]