After an 0-for-4 night with a strikeout and failed bunt attempt in the series opener against the Texas Rangers on Monday night, second baseman Ryan Goins is hitting .160 on the young season.
Always an excellent defender, little has been asked of Goins at the plate, but the remaining three games in this Texas series should represent an opportunity for the Blue Jays and manager John Gibbons to expand the role of reserve infielder Darwin Barney.
Goins and Barney already make for a logical platoon tandem, with Goins hitting right-handers at a higher rate and Barney handling the southpaws more comfortably. Especially when considering that Barney is one of the rare bench options in baseball that is not a steep drop-off from Goins defensively — he’s a former Gold Glove Award winner — this move should be one that’s relatively easy to make.
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Martin Perez is scheduled to pitch for the Rangers on Tuesday, a left-hander who’s allowed right-handed hitters to produce a career OPS of .772. That’s 118 points higher than his numbers against hitters of the same hand.
After Colby Lewis on Wednesday, the Rangers are then expected to start lefty Derek Holland. His splits are similar to those of Perez, making Barney the stronger play even if Goins were performing relatively well, let alone when he’s struggling.
The Blue Jays are seeing similar offensive struggles across their infield with Justin Smoak (.225 AVG) and Troy Tulowitzki (.165). The five time all-star Tulowitzki has earned a long leash, of course, while the recent suspension of Chris Colabello leaves the Blue Jays in a wait-and-see situation at first base over the coming month or two. At second base, though, the pieces are in place to produce a strong positional value until the return of Devon Travis.
Ryan Goins has crossed 80 at-bats by this point, admittedly not enough to draw a hard conclusion on 2016 as a whole. Not close. But seasons like 2013 and 2014, where he combined to produce a .531 OPS over 101 games, do indicate that these cold stretches at the plate are more of a norm than an outlier for Goins.
Now, from the other side of this, there still needs to be room for Goins against right-handed pitchers, and there should be. But a timeshare closer to 50-50 would better maximize that value of Toronto’s duo at second base.