Blue Jays’ Ryan Goins: How to Get Him Out


Here at Jays Journal, we’ve begun a series of analysis that looks at How to Get Blue Jays Hitters Out. Our first examination was of Kevin Pillar. In the next installment, we bring our attention to Ryan Goins, who many would consider a “light hitter”. In fact, the quip has been made that if you want to get Goins out, you simply pitch to him. While that is obviously an exaggeration, it does capture the sentiment of Blue Jays’ fans who are looking ahead to Goins as their everyday second baseman in 2016.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Some people point to his second half adjustments that led to an improved performance at the plate. Others are not fooled by that and point to the postseason as proof that the first half of the season and what we historically know of Gions is closer to what we’re going to get.

This past season was an interesting one for the 27 year old lefty bat. The same conversation seems to happen every winter: Yes, his defense is great, but can the club afford to carry his below average bat? And, while it seems like the club is reluctant to give him everyday at bats, we tend to see him in roles for extended periods of time.

Overall, Goins struggled against left handed pitching with a .212 average (according to He had more success against righties, but didn’t exactly reach Ted Williams proportions against them with a .261 clip. The difference in halves is really what has folks who are comfortable with Goins pointing to. The first half saw him hit .226/.273/.321 with a wRC+ of 60. SIXTY! His second half, though, saw him reach .274/.361/.387 and a wRC+ of 108. His walk rate jumped from 5.7% to 12.4%. Now, it should be noted that Goins was also helped out by a BABIP that was .268 in the first half and .343 in the 2nd.

So, what is the book on Goins? How do you get him out? Well, first we’ll look at his performance against certain pitches. According to, in comparison to other hitters, Goins is classified as a guy who is ‘patient against fastballs with league average power as well as a league average likelihood to swing and miss. Against breaking pitches, he has a steady approach at the plate with an average swing and miss tendency (27%) and average power. When he sees offspeed stuff, he remains patient, but swings and misses below league average (27%). He generates average power against offspeed stuff.’

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Right away, we see that Goins’ ability to recognize the offspeed pitches results in too many swings and misses. Our ‘eye test’ from watching games tells us this too. Missing on 27% of breaking pitches is league average, but 27% of offspeed pitches is too much. If you want to get a swing and miss from Goins, fire something offspeed. Actually, let’s take a deeper look at his success against certain offerings.

Against fastballs, Goins seems to have good recognition. He swung at 41.35% of the ones he’s seen, 32.09% of which were strikes. We’ve seen him seemingly overmatched by some fastballs and the 18.81% foul rate against 994 of them supports that. Proportionally, the fastball provides the highest rate of foul balls for Goins. When he does swing at a fastball, he only whiffs 7.04% of the time.  It’s his 2nd lowest whiff rate. Goins loves the fastball. Pitchers would do well to establish it early against him.

If you want to strike him out after showing him some fastballs, you should then follow up with the change. Most pitchers who threw it to him, threw it for balls (40.89%), but he swung at 45.47% of the ones he saw. The results? He fouled off 12.78% of them and whiffed on 13.42%. But, the strike out isn’t always a guarantee, here. See, Goins also put the ball in play 19.17% of the time against change ups, which resulted in 11.50% ground balls, 4.47% flyballs, which led to a home run in 0.32% of the time. But, these numbers shouldn’t cause pitchers to shy away from the change up. When down 2 strikes, he whiffed on 16.67% of change ups.

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The breaking pitches prove to be quite successful against Goins as well. Of the 340 sliders he saw, he swung at 50% of them and missed 15.88%, which makes the slider his worst pitch in that category. He’ll also foul it off 13.82% of the time. His efforts result in ground balls 11.18% also. The slider is not the friend of Ryan Goins. When down 2 strikes, he whiffed on 17.04% of them. Neither is the curveball, where he saw 299 of them that resulted in a 38.13% swing rate, 16.05% foul ball, 10.37% whiff and a 0.00% HR rate. With 2 strikes, he whiffed on 13.56% of them.

If you’re looking to get a ground ball from him, you should consider the typical ground ball inducing sinker. He saw 613 of them that were thrown for balls more often than not. He swung at nearly 40% of them and made contact a lot with a whiff rate of just 3.92%. He fouled off 15.33%, hit 22.84% in play and grounded 15.99%. Perhaps a well located sinker can get you a double play from Goins. He hit into 12 of them in 2015.

So, where do you throw Ryan Goins? Here’s a look at where he swings (via

He loves the ball up and in, generally. If you put a fastball in that area, he’s going to be swinging. Pitchers might feel OK with this idea, because even if they miss, and the ball is out over the plate, Goins will still swing and his power might not really intimidate. But, if you want him to swing, you should look up and in.

Goins is good at making contact when the ball is in the zone, though. Most of his contact comes from that area of the plate. As pitches move toward the outer areas of the strike zone, his ability to make contact fades. But, one thing to keep in mind is that he has the ability to pull his hands in and connect with inside offerings. When it gets to two strikes, though, the story gets interesting.

According to Brooks Baseball, pitchers knew this about Goins. They threw the bulk of their offerings down and away:

When it got to 2 strikes, the story changed a bit. Goins struck out on pitches down and in or high out of the zone:

The book on Goins is actually an easy read. Before this exercise, folks probably could have answered the question of getting Goins out based on their own observations. Perhaps the good news is that the evidence backs up the ‘eye test’. As for defending against Goins for when the ball is in play, you have to look at how he hits the ball and where. Against fastballs, he tends to pull the ball slightly. Whereas against breaking pitches, he pulls it quite often. When he sees and offspeed pitch, he tends to use the whole field.

Here’s a look at his spray charts via Brooks Baseball:

Generally speaking, the weak contact is to the pull side and his line drive efforts tend to go middle away.

Next: Analyzing Drew Hutchison: Release Points & His Role

If you are looking to get Ryan Goins out, he hasn’t really presented much difficulty in 2015. He has shown flashes of turning this around, though. Right now, it looks like he’ll be given an opportunity to start everyday at second base and build on the successes of last season. Pitchers should not make the mistake of assuming he is an “easy out”. Instead, they should do their homework and create a game plan like they would for a more dangerous hitter.

Ryan Goins is a guy who has had difficulty with the offspeed and breaking pitches. He loves the fastball up and in. He is a double play candidate who also fouls off a lot of offerings. Depending on the adjustments he makes, he could be the bat Blue Jays fans fear in their own lineup. But, he could also bring a level of play at the plate that makes his bat a contributor in 2016. Time will tell.