In a season started with such promise but quickly fizzled into the reality of failed expectations and utter letdown, it is easy as fans to look for a glimmer of good news and cling to it. Hell, we’re all guilty of it. But I can do one thing my fellow Blue Jays fans, I have to implore you.
Do not jump the Ryan Goins shark just yet.
Understandably, it is easy to appreciate what Goins has done in his 6-game Major League career. In his massive sample size of 23 plate appearances he is hitting a robust .455 with a 1.024 OPS. That’s good for roughly 0.5 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball-Reference and 0.4 according to FanGraphs. Just an FYI, Maicer Izturis is kicking in a -1.8 bWAR.
Rejoice, our second base riddle has been solved, right?!
Hold up just a minute and think this through a bit before we anoint anyone the future at the Keystone.
Now, I know our struggles at second base are well documented and we are always on the look-out for the next best thing, but we need to remember that there is a funny thing about small sample sizes; they are often not maintainable.
Remember when Jim Negrych was hitting .400 at Triple-A Buffalo and the Twitter nation was out in full force with their #FreeJimNegrych hash-tags? Well, Negrych maintained a healthy batting average overall, but his .400 mark in the early months of the season quickly dwindled down to a .285 mark, which isn’t much to sneeze at when you realize he’s a 28-year-old journeyman that has never seen a Major League at-bat. How many of those hash-tags are you still seeing floating around?
Going back to Goins, there are some important things to remember here.
1.) He’s put up a masterful .500 baBIP mark at this stage. Unless the other team pulls half of their fielders off the diamond during his at-bats, that’s not going to continue to stay there and will likely drop by half.
2.) He’s a 25-year-old getting his first taste of the big leagues. That means he’s too old to be considered a true prospect, so he’s likely fallen into the category of “not good enough to put together a book on him”.
3.) He holds a lifetime mark of .273 with a .706 OPS over the course of 5 Minor League seasons. That’s decent production for a middle infielder, but it’s hardly top prospect material either.
4.) As my cohort Jay Blue pointed out in a recent conversation, Goins had a unique split at Triple-A this season. When ahead in the count in Buffalo, Goins his .150/.324/.230, but when he was behind in the count, he hit .282/.288/.405. Now in the Majors, he’s maintaining a similar split. Goins is hitting .200/.333/.200 when ahead in the count in Toronto, but .500/.500/.500 when behind. That’s an eerie anomaly that’s likely to reverse course on at least one front, if not both.
The point here being, we don’t need to set ourselves up for future disappointment by creating lofty, yet unattainable expectations for a player that is doing his best to mirror Jose Iglesias. Still, we can sit back and get a good look at him for the remainder of the season and hope that he can at least justify a shot next year.
Because hope if always so much easier to cling to that a false sense of security.