Jays From the Couch takes a fair, logical look at Ryan Goins’ role with the Toronto Blue Jays, now and in the future
The Toronto Blue Jays have an interesting decision to make with regards to the position of Ryan Goins on this team. For the first time, they will face not having complete control over his contract details. He will enter arbitration this winter and chances are, he will see a raise from the $550k he made this year. It may not be significant, but it is difficult to imagine a player entering arbitration and coming out with the league minimum salary.
The thing is that if you ask a lot of fans of the Blue Jays, Goins may not “deserve” much more than that. Many have been critical of what he brings to the table (including myself, which you may recall, if you are a regular listener of Jays From the Couch Radio). And, why not? Considering his offensive production, the criticism is justified.
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The 29 year old is hitting just .227, getting on base at a well below average pace and hitting for little power. Despite having reached a career high in home runs, two of which went for grand slams this year, there isn’t anyone who would call Goins’ 2017 offensive performance a pleasant surprise. I mean, he’s doing exactly what he’s always done, really:
Ryan Goins is what he is at the plate. Those that love him will ignore this and point to his glove as the reason why he should play everyday. When he’s played second base, he hasn’t been bad at all. He’s put up 3 DRS and a UZR/150 of 1.1. That’s good filling in. When playing shortstop, his primary position, he’s not been as good. The -4 DRS and a UZR/150 of -9.2. Those are worse than the ‘aging, declining, over paid, no good’ (please pick up on the intended sarcasm) Troy Tulowitzki.
So, his bat is weak. His defense might be overrated. Rather than say outlandish things like Goins should not be employed in 2018, we really have to take a step back and look at this objectively. Sending a guy to the unemployment line is way too dramatic. Instead, seeing Goins for what he is, and the situation within which he finds himself for what it is provides some less dramatic clarity.
The fact is, Ryan Goins was not supposed to be playing this much. At the time of writing, he has seen action in 136 games. That’s 437 plate appearances. He’s played more than the guy he’s filling in for, Tulo, and the other guy she has filled in for, Devon Travis. If either of these guys were healthy this season, Goins would be a bench player. He would be a left handed bat that can provide a defensive replacement now and then. That’s all he’s supposed to be. When he plays more than he should, he gets exposed. It’s not a knock, it’s just reality. But, it definitely answers those who would say, “he just needs a chance to play everyday.”
When Goins plays everyday, his value decreases. Now, the counter to that is that he played a similar amount of time in 2015 and put up 1.5 fWAR. The difference is that his glove has been far less valuable this year (-0.7) than in 2015 (5.7). His bat has been far less valuable: -5.7 in 2015 to a whopping -21.1 in 2017.
And, this is why his arbitration case may not net a lot of financial gains for Goins. He is a bench player who gets exposed over longer periods of time. That said, he is of use to a team that will likely need a player to provide its healthy starters breaks throughout the season. A guy who can do that, so that regulars can stay healthy over the long haul is incredibly valuable. We’ve seen what injuries can do to playoff hopes. So, the idea of Goins returning is not far fetched at all. It is certainly more logical than saying Goins should be unemployed.
We know how much the Blue Jays front office has loved Goins in the past. Heck, even when the regime changed, and Goins found himself out of options, he managed to stick around. That is because in a specific context, he provides good value. That context is a bench player who will be rather affordable. Goins has put up disappointing numbers, but if we’re going to be fair, and we should, it really isn’t his fault.
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