Ryan Goins: His Struggles as a Hitter
The Blue jays have set themselves up with a lineup that can afford to carry the light hitting Ryan Goins for his defense. When the 2015 season begins, we may very well see Goins get the starting 2B job…again. The sound of this may make some Blue Jays fans cringe. But, I want to explore just what is up with Goins’ bat. Why is he not having success?
I went to Fangraphs.com and started looking at some heat maps from last season first. Here’s what I noticed: Pitchers are throwing to him down and away. A lot.
Yet, while they were busy throwing him down and away, he must have been thinking about something else. He tended to swing in the mid to upper range (and even beyond) of the strike zone.
This tells me that he is looking for something right down the middle. This may have worked in the minors, but very rarely do big league pitchers throw something right down the pipe. And, how has this approach worked for Goins?
The following map shows where he made contact. Get ready…
Goins has actually made contact with more success in the exact opposite area to which pitchers threw. It is a flawed approach to be looking and making contact in the area where there will be fewer balls thrown. Instead, Goins should be looking more toward down and away.
When he is making contact, he is putting the ball on the ground an awful lot. The bulk of the balls he made contact on were hit to the infield or just to the outer limits of the infield.
And of all those batted balls, very few have translated to actual hits.
When Goins is successful in getting his hits, they mostly have come via the linedrive. A good number of his singles are from linedrives. But, they are few and far between. Perhaps a better approach to where he expects the ball can help with that.
Next: Blue Jays Complete Coaching Staff
The problem is that Goins hit 18.2% linedrives last season. 26.3% were flyballs. If you don’t have much power, that many fly balls are going to hurt you. What is even less helpful is hitting ground balls 55% of the time. So, his most successful type of hits, the line drive, came only 18.2% of the time and the bulk of those come from an area where pitchers throw the ball rarely. None of this is a recipe for success.
As well, Goins saw an increase in fastballs last season. He saw 55.9% where the year before, he saw 53.7%. That may not seem like a huge increase, but if you pair it with the 5% increase in change ups (8.2% in 2013 to 13% in 2014) you get an approach that could be more tricky for Goins. It would appear that pitchers have figured out Goins and adjusted accordingly as he saw a decrease in the percentage of the other pitches he saw. It is as if the word got out that Goins can be fooled by changing speeds. If you combine that with him looking and swinging at pitches in the wrong area, we can see why he has struggled.
I do not claim to be an expert or a hitting coach, but there is definitely a noticeable flaw in Goins’ approach. Whether or not that can be fixed and result in success remains to be seen. It is worth noting, though that Goins never really set the world on fire in the minors, either. He’s a career .275 hitter there. The most HR he’s hit in a season came in 2012 when he hit 7 in AA New Hampshire. That year, he also hit 33 doubles. No, the power has not really been part of his overall game.
Goins will be 27 in February. Perhaps it is time to accept that this is what you are going to get from Goins’ bat. He’s risen on the power of his glove. Given the state of the current Blue Jays lineup, maybe that may be enough.