A breakout showing from Blue Jays second baseman Ryan Goins last season could force his way into the conversation for 2016 given the injury to Devon Travis
What a difference a year made for Ryan Goins. Coming into spring training in 2014, he was labeled the Blue Jays second basemen and would lose the job by late April. Goins has always been impressive with the glove, but his inability to hit lost him the job that season. His fine leather work was keeping him in the conversation as he drew comparisons to Roberto Alomar on defense. The issues lied at the plate, of course, as pitchers quickly found every hole in his swing.
2015 Performance Recap
This past season, something clicked for Goins at the plate. He was left off of the Jays opening day roster but quickly found his way back to the majors. He showed off his glove work mostly at second base and shortstop but made appearances at third base and the corner outfield positions. It appeared that management saw Goins’ glove as completely universal and knew they would get great defense out of him wherever it was on the diamond. When Jose Reyes and Devon Travis were injured, in Goins stepped in and looked all too comfortable.
The best thing about Goins this go-around was that he finally brought a good stick at the plate. After turning in some hard work with Brook Jacoby, he had a more relaxed approach at the plate. This was giving Goins better timing at the plate which translated to a better on base percentage.
Goins would make his way in to in 128 games and bat a respectable .250 with 52 runs scored, 45 RBIs, and 5 homers. This complimented his excellent glove work and solidified him in the lineup the rest of the season. Goins also showed up in the clutch as he hit a walk off homer in early September against the Orioles. His work was crucial down the stretch, playing in all of the Jays playoff games and batted .263 in the ALCS against the Royals.
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2016 Role and Steamer Projection
Goins is definitely one of the wildcards on the Blue Jays roster. His usage will directly hinge on how healthy the lineup stays. This makes it difficult to predict what he’ll do in terms of playing time and counting stats, but if he gets an extended look, he’s proved that he can be productive with the bat along with showing off with the glove.
Goins is more then likely going to be the first person off the bench at second, short, at third once Devon Travis returns. His ability to play nearly anywhere on the diamond will allow him to get into more games, but for the opening months of the season, a starting job should be his to run with.
Steamer has Goins batting .240 with 3 homers, 32 runs scored, and 28 RBIs in 84 games. Only limiting Goins to offensive metrics really limits his abilities as a player. These projections show Goins at a .3 WAR. This projection reflecting the above offensive numbers. Goins WAR for last season was a solid 1.5 because of his phenomenal glove work and average hitting. It will be interesting to see what he produces as the season roles out.
What could go wrong?
Goins had a decent showing with the bat this past season, but was it for real? His hitting adjustments helped him improve significantly but will he continue to trend upward? Goins showed a quick bat and improved patience after the tweaks to his approach. This, so far, has translated into a better on-base-percentage and better production in general. Goes will always impress with his glove, but he needs to show that he can be a consistent bat as well.
What could go right?
Goins takes this early opportunity he is getting with a continued injury to Devon Travis and runs with it. If Goins can continue to build on this newly discovered ability to hit, he could make it hard for management to decide who plays second. His plus defense would finally have the hitting to compliment his all around game. During the last months of the season Goins was hitting the ball well. So well that he collected a .314 batting average in August and a .263 average in Sept/ Oct. This was instant gratification for Goins as he has just settled into his new approach. Clearly the relaxed approach was working as he helped the Jays down the stretch.
The bottom line
Blue Jays fans all know what Goins can do with his glove. Look for Goins to continue refining his new approach and come into the spring swinging. He has gotten a taste for playing every day and would like to keep it. Goins could be one of the players to watch this spring as the Jays report to camp. If Goins can get on base consistently, he is going to be a highly valued asset for the Jays.