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What can the Blue Jays expect from Ryan Goins in 2016?

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With Devon Travis on the shelf to open the 2016 season, what can the Blue Jays expect from Ryan Goins?

For starters, Goins posted the best numbers of his career in the largest sample size of action that he’s seen in the big leagues this past season, putting up an Average of .250, an OBP of .318 and added 52 runs and 45 RBI’s in 428 plate appearances at second and at short. Fangraphs STEAMER projects Goins to put up a .240 Average, an .289 OBP and contribute 58 runs and 53 RBI’s in 2016.

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While the projected drop in Average and OBP would suggest he’ll regress offensively, they predict that the contact he does make will score more runs. Both as a batter or base-runner. While this is nowhere close to the offensive production that Travis can produce, it should come as a comforting sign that the Jays could more or less be getting the same offensive production value from Goins that could come with some improved situational hitting.

While he doesn’t possess the biggest bat on the team, his defense is among the best on the team the Blue Jays managed to make it to the post season just fine with Travis out of the lineup the stretch. Further comparison between 2015 and the Steamer projections show Goins tallying more stolen bases and long-balls over a large workload despite a .010 point drop in ISO,  which suggests that Goins should remain offensively relevant, at the very least, and let his glove do the talking.

That said, the Blue Jays will be fine with a sub-.250 hitter in the ninth spot until Travis returns. The Jays retain every 2015 positional player outside of Dioner Navarro, so the lineup is a frightening even one without Travis, and Goins will serve potential RBI generator for the top half of the lineup if he improves his on-base tool. However offense is not what the Blue Jays will get the most from Goins. It’s his defense.

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Fangraphs also projects Goins to have a defensive rank of 5.7 which is improves upon the ceiling of Travis. Combining this level of defensive capabilities with Smoak, Tulowitzki,and Donaldson will create an air tight defensive line for the infield. Taking into account Kevin Pillar’s super-human defensive production, and the Blue Jays figure to have one of the better defenses in the American League. Goins’ ability to play short adeptly will also be a boon for the Jays, should injury occur or a shift be placed.

While Goins will not be a candidate to climb the batting order anytime soon, the Blue Jays can expect to get ample production from their number nine hitter. On the field, Goins will factor into a defense that the Jays are still relatively unaccustomed too, a good one. While this might sound like “more of the same”, the Jays were able to reliably depend upon Goins’ bat and glove in the 2015 season. That was good enough to break Toronto’s playoff drought, and it will be good enough for the Jays come opening Day 2016. With any luck, Travis just might have to fight to get his starting job back.

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