Name: Ryan Goins
|162 Game Avg.||162||577||52||143||24||0||10||38||0||0||10||133||.252||.264||.345||.609|
Ryan Goins was drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays out of Dallas Baptist University. The 25-year-old was moved up to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to start the season after batting .289/.342/.402 for Double-A New Hampshire last year. He also led the Eastern League with 158 hits in 2012. The Blue Jays protected Goins from the Rule 5 draft by adding him to the 40-man roster last November. He was the Bisons’ Opening Day shortstop and his 40-man status made him a definite candidate to be a September call-up. The Blue Jays also had infielder Munenori Kawasaki, 32, coming off the bench in Buffalo, which gave the Blue Jays the luxury of having a player with MLB experience in their system to use instead of having to rush Goins in the case of injury.
Goins had a bit of a rough start in Buffalo and shockingly enough made 2 errors in his first 4 games. He failed to draw a walk until his 19th game of the season but picked up the pace with much better months in June (.292/.378/.444) and July (.292/.354/.404). Despite not great numbers overall, there were many within the organization that remained high on Goins. He impressed enough earn a slightly early promotion when Izturis went down in late August. He started on fire with the Blue Jays and was batting .455/.478/.545 after his first six games but soon came crashing back down to Earth and batted only .202/.211/.303 in September.
The left-handed Goins was adequate versus right-handed pitchers (.274/.323/.385) but as you might expect his production dropped significantly against lefties (.214/.243/.310). He hits the ball on the ground a lot (56.2%) so it wasn’t surprising to see his early luck evaporate so quickly. Goins doesn’t have a very aggressive approach at the plate swung at only 52.7% of pitches inside of the strike zone (average is 65.5%) but still managed to chase at 36.9% of pitches outside of the zone (average is 31.0%), which led to a 23.1% strikeout rate and a paltry 1.7% walk rate. To be fair he does only have 121 MLB plate appearances under his belt so I would expect the plate discipline numbers (and therefore his K% and BB%) to improve with more ABs.
The place Goins really sparkled in Toronto was on defense playing second base. He has great range and isn’t overly quick but has great instincts and makes tough plays look easy. In 33 games he had racked up a 6.2 UZR and 12 DRS, which are ridiculously good numbers for so few games played. To put his DRS in perspective, he saved more runs than Colby Rasmus based on that metric during 2013 (in about 1/4 as many games). He was pretty much flawless so to extrapolate his small-small-size numbers over a full-season using UZR/150 or DRS/yr is unwise but he was an elite defensive second baseman for the Blue Jays in 2013.
Goins’ strong start had many fans wondering if the team has found the answer for the lack of production at second base, which was an Achilles heel for the Blue Jays in 2013 as evidenced by the team triple-slash of .216/.258/.297. Goins’ final season line of .252/.264/.365 and 62 wRC+ wasn’t much better but did provide much better defense than Izturis, Kawasaki, Mark DeRosa or even the failed Brett Lawrie experiment. But he has yet to develop gap power and many of the hits that he had this year were on ground balls that found their way through the infield. His BABIP was .315 and he hit only .252 – enough said.
As for a projection for Goins, I think that he will compete with Izturis for playing time in 2014 unless the Jays decide to upgrade second base during the offseason. A platoon could be a possibility as the switch-hitting Izturis batted .259/.278/.319 versus lefties, which if managed properly could help Goins in much the same way John Gibbons helped Adam Lind by not playing him against lefties. My projection for Ryan Goins in 2014 will be a .242/.278/.342 triple-slash and 62 wRC+. If he plays only against right-handed pitchers the majority of the time, I would expect his line to bump up to .256/.292/.358 and 69 wRC+.