Jays From the Couch brings you the player Highlights & Lowlights from the 2017 season. This time: Ryan Goins
In 2017, the Toronto Blue Jays found themselves in a situation that resulted in Ryan Goins going from bench player to everyday starter. With injuries to Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki and even Josh Donaldson, the 29 year old Texans saw a career high in games played and plate appearances. He saw playing time at every infield position, but first and now finds himself in a very interesting position looking ahead to the 2018 season.
If we’re looking for some personal highlights for Goins, we would have to point out that he set career highs in plate appearances, games played, as well as home runs and RBI. Someone, somewhere will say that the increase in HR and RBI are a direct product of Goins playing everyday. That could have something to do with it, but check out his launch angles (via Baseball Savant) from 2016 (left) compared to 2017 (right):
The TV broadcast would tell you that Goins swing looked long, which is their way of saying he was trying for home runs. It very well could be that he was simply trying to get more lift on the ball, as explained in our previous look at the flyball revolution. In short, players around baseball are trying to get more lift on the ball, not necessarily to hit home runs, but to drive the ball deeper. Goins very well could fit this category.
It did result in him hitting for increased power as his ISO was higher than in 2015 – he also hit more doubles than he ever has. But, none of this was enough to save his bat. More on that in the “Lowlights” section. Instead, we probably should look at Goins’ ability to hit with runners in scoring position. This has been something that we’ve heard made into a rather significant narrative.
And, why not? Goins slashed .330/.368/.540 with runners in scoring position. He hit five of his dingers in these situations and drove in all but 7 of his RBI. You can see why people would want to make a thing of this. It gets better! With a runner on third and two out, Goins managed an OPS of 1.286. His BABIP of .500 in those situations aside, Goins seemed to have been able to come through.
Despite the apparent clutchiness that Goins brought to the plate, overall, he was a poor offensive player. According to Fangraphs, he slashed .237/.286/.356 for a wRC+ of 69. He saw a slight increase in his medium contact rate and decrease in his soft contact, but when you’re hitting at medium strength 52.7%, you’re not going to see an exit velocity much above 90mph:
The lack of hard hit balls, didn’t help Goins, of the Blue Jays much. In fact, he grounded into 14 double plays, which puts him 4th on the team. At the very least, he should have been able to use his speed to break these up, but Fangraphs has his Spd at 2.7. For comparison, Jose Bautista saw a rating of 3.4!
The one aspect of Goins’ game that his supporters point to is his ability to contribute with his glove. There are those that believe he is better defensively than Troy Tulowitzki. Unfortunately for them, the numbers don’t support this. When playing short, Goins put up -5 DRS this year and 1 in 2016 (Tulo: 0 this season and 10 in 2016). Goins also saw a UZR/150 of -9.8 and -3.8 in 2016 (Tulo: -2.4 this year and 5.4 in 2016). Goins best position was at second base, where he put up 3 DRS and a UZR/150 of 1.7.
Ryan Goins is in an interesting spot this winter. He is out of options – he has been for a while. Somehow he has always managed to hold on to a roster spot. This offseason could be the end of that. The Blue Jays have to make a decision whether to tender Goins a contract, or not. Do they want to bring him back, is the real question.
Likely, what you will see happen is that he returns to Toronto. They have shown that they have been happy with his ability to be a bench guy. He was never supposed to take the field every day. If this front office is going to look to add depth, they very well could see Goins as valuable. He certainly won’t cost a fortune. He won’t be the answer for what to do about Tulo and Travis’ inability to play consistently. For that, the Blue Jays will have to look elsewhere. But, don’t be surprised to see them look to Goins to round out the roster.
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