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Ryan Goins: Blue Jays Year in Review

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Coming into 2014, Ryan Goins was given the starting position at second base. I say given because the alternatives were fairly repulsive (sorry Maicer Izturis, Munenori Kawasaki, Steve Tolleson and company). 2014 looked promising for the 26 year old. He even had journalists and other experts marching to the tune of, “I don’t care what he hits as long as he provides sound defence,” but it wasn’t long before that phrase passed its expiration date and Goins was demoted to Triple-A.

Goins is the type of player that makes you want to pull your hair out. His defence is incredible but his offensive numbers are so despicable it makes this Blue Jays fan sick. Can he figure it out offensively in order to become an everyday Blue Jays second basemen? Only time will tell but here’s a look at the good, the bad and the future for second basemen Ryan Goins.

The Good:

When examining the year that was for Goins, there really isn’t a plethora of good things to say about it. Oh, wait I forgot, there’s this…

It’s plays like this that instil the dream of something better for Goins. A vision where he plays everyday and resembles the old days where no ball passed the vacuum that was Roberto Alomar‘s glove. Goins has had an incredible season defensively as he did in a shorter stint with the team in 2013. His DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of +3 and UZR/150 of 5.7, scream everyday player especially when making barehanded plays like the one above seem second-nature.

Even his bat at times this season looked as if it were ready to take on a full-time role. The problem was that these aforementioned times were at the minor league level. In Buffalo, Goins produced an impressive slash of .284/.337/.353 dovetailed with a 0.318 wOBA and a 7 % BB rate. Good right? Even a slight regression from these numbers at the major league level would be seen as welcoming if he were able to sustain that.

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The Bad:

This is the section Blue Jays fans all know too well. It would be remiss to not spend the whole portion of this section analyzing Goins’ lack of a hit tool. As seen above, Goins produced a .181/.209/.271 slash this season in 181 at-bats, 62 more than the previous season. According to Baseball Reference this resulted in an offensive WAR of -0.5, down from 0.0 offensive WAR last season, and a surplus of boo’s from Jays fans at the Rogers Centre.

When attempting to quantify Goin’s issues at the dish, the most helpful examination is through pitch f/x and his batted ball statistics.

Starting with his pitch f/x numbers, Goins was surprisingly not that awful. He maintained major league average in swing rate, outside of strike-zone contact rate, contact rate and was even above average in contact rate within the strike-zone. His biggest flaw was that he swung at too many pitches outside the strike-zone resulting in weak contact or quite simply pitches that weren’t his pitches to hit.

His batted ball statistics tell a similar story. Goins produced a line-drive and fly-ball rate that were both below major league average according to Fangraphs. What this produced was a ground ball rate of 55.5 %, 11 per cent above the major league average which resulted in Goins’ ugly 0.188 batting average.

Quite simply, Goins hit too many ground balls, not enough hard hit line-drives likely induced from swinging at pitches that were less than ideal to a hitter of his stature.

The future:

The good news about Ryan Goins is that he’s still 26 and his 0.237 batting average with balls in play suggests at least some of this year’s regression can be attributed to bad luck.  He still has time to improve his bat to be the complete second basemen the Jays dream he will be. How is he to do this? That remains to be seen.  Jeff Blair of Sportsnet says that John Gibbons has suggested he play winter league baseball in the Dominican Republic in hopes he can find himself under the warm air and encapsulating baseball culture.

Ultimately, something has to stick. Something has to change his approach to make him walk more, strikeout less and become the starting second basemen on what will hopefully be the year the Jays make the post-season. We just have to find out what that something is.