Blue Jays should start Ryan Goins at second in 2016

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Ryan Goins not-so-quietly put together a great campaign in 2015, posting an average of .250 in an expanded role. Not only did his average jump, his OPS saw an increase of over .100 points from 2014 and his total bases more than doubled. This, combined with his defensive skills and versatility, made him a staple in the Jay’s magnificent season. The only problem is that Devon Travis will be back next year, and healthy, that man is scary.

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In 67 games with the Blue Jays, and in his rookie year no less, Travis hit for a .304 Average with an OPS of .859, including eight home runs and 35 RBIs. Had his season not been plagued by injuries, he would no doubt be in the forefront of everyone’s mind for Rookie of the Year. Travis often occupied the leadoff spot in his short time with the Jays, and when a team’s leadoff man has 20 home run potential with on-base skills, that team is set. When the batters behind that are Donaldson, Bautista, Encarnacion, and Tulowitzki, you have the holy grail of offense. So why should the Jays consider Ryan Goins when Travis is healthy?

The first thing to consider is Goins’ defense. Aside from Kevin Pillar, no other player was making grabs like he was in 2015. Goins committed just 7 errors in the infield all season, meanwhile Travis let up 6 in his limited fielding time. Travis may have found his major league bat, but his fielding just isn’t near the level of Goins. With the Blue Jays lineup being as good as it is without Travis, adding him would add to an offense they have in spades, and take away significantly from a defense that only recently found its form. While some might apply the score more theory, the fact remains that a run saved is a run earned.

Goins is also versatile. He not only played second and short significantly, but even saw brief stints in the outfield. While his fielding diminishes the closer he gets to the warning track, the fact that he can play two key infield positions is a major boon. Especially when you have the often-injured Tulowitzki at shortstop. Even if Travis was the opening day starter, Goins would vie for time based on the sheer fact that he’s multi-positional.

Much like the Blue Jays emphasis on defense at first with Smoak over Colabello for much oft he season, the Jays should focus primarily on the defense and use Travis as a member of a platoon. It worked with Smoak/Colabello, it can work with Goins/Travis.

While Travis had limited plate appearances in his rookie year, he put up mouth-watering numbers. While one can speculate on the postseason if Travis was a member of the lineup instead of Goins, the fact of the matter is that Jays got to the postseason with Goins. Deep into the post season. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If the Blue Jays choose to take that mentality, they can use Travis as a trade chip. One that should come in handy considering the myriad of teams that are in rebuilding mode. Travis could be a key chip that helps to land an ace-level starter should the Price negotiations not go in the Jays’ favor.

By treating Travis as an expendable asset, the Jays can work a very lucrative market in their favor. Trading a bat of his perceived worth could easily be involved in a trade that lands a pitcher for the Jays. Travis is a superfluous bat on a team that needs pitching.

Not only does Goins deserve the starting gig based on his 2015 campaign, he represents the best defensive infielder the Blue Jays have currently. While the long term future is uncertain, and Travis is an asset that the Jays could have for years to come, the immediate future is clear. The team will enter 2016 largely unchanged, and will no doubt be a favorite to go deep into the postseason again. Goins was a member of the starting nine that got the Jays this far, and he should contribute just as much in 2016 if given the chance.

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