For as long as most Jays fans can remember, the play of Ryan Goins has been accompanied by the thought sacrificing offensive production in the name of defensive stability.
In 185 games Goins has commanded an abysmal .219/.257/.309 slash line while walking in only 4.8 per cent of his plate appearances and striking out in an atrocious 20.7 per cent of his plate apperances. He’s by no means an offensive god; but this is by no means a surprise to you reading this.
Ryan Goins trots out between the lines to do this:
Throughout his career in Toronto, Goins has played myriad of positions on the diamond. Mostly, he’s spent his time at second base and shortstop but has occasionally stepped in at third base and even left field this season. Factoring in only his infield reps with the Jays, Goins has saved the club a whopping 26 runs–or approximately 2.6 wins–with his outfield tenure being slightly less successful, costing the Jays one run in a much smaller sample size. The guy can pick a ball.
But, for much of his career, he couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat, or so the saying goes. With that said, in this his busiest season in a Jays uniform, Goins seems to be developing a better approach at the plate, reminiscent of his more offensively successful days in the minor leagues.
WARNING, this is a very small sample size. With the Jays being hot at the same time, this blip in offensive production may mean nothing. But it may mean something too.
In the first half of this season, Goins produced a very Goinsian slash line of .226/.273/.321. In the second half, with 15 games to show for it, his slash line is .227/.352/.318. Really, only one thing changed in that short time frame: Ryan Goins discovered how to get on base.
As anyone who knows baseball understands, there’s only two ways to get on base and increase your on-base percentage: get a hit, or earn a walk. As you can see, Goins hasn’t statistically hit any better in the second half. His batting average is just one point higher. Instead, he’s reached base at a potentially unsustainable 35.2 per cent of the time as he increased his walk rate from 5.7 per cent to 16.7 per cent. In all likelihood, that rate won’t be preserved for much longer. It would tie him for fourth in the league in walk rate with Carlos Santana.
The main reason behind Goins’s increased walk rate is that he seems to be watching, or taking more pitches per plate appearance. In the first half of the season, Goins saw 740 pitches in 190 plate appearances, averaging 3.9 pitcher per plate appearance. In the second half, Goins bumped that average up to 5.3 pitches per plate appearance. As you can theoretically imagine, the more pitches you see in a plate appearance, the greater the chance you’ll be standing on first base with a well deserved walk. In fact, science backs this positive correlation up.
So Ryan Goins is seeing more pitches per plate appearance, so what? All this translates to a more valuable player. If Moneyball has taught us anything it’s that getting on base matters to a lot more people than just Billy Beane. In his second half, Goins has been worth 0.2 WAR as opposed to his first half value of flat 0.0.
Maybe this is means nothing. Goins could regress to his free-swinging self while watching the truly valuable stars smash in the current lineup. But maybe Ryan Goins can be more than a face with a really good baseball glove. He could even add something to an all-star team with a wooden stick in his hand.