Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
Ryan Goins has a history of confounding baseball analysts. In 2015 it was a sudden surge in his walk rate, in 2017 it was his ability to hit with runners in scoring position. For many proponents of clutch hitting and traditional stats his 2017 was a good year.
In 99 at bats with runners in scoring position (RISP) Goins hit .333/.372/.545. Not a bad showing for a borderline major league utility infielder. He also had 9 home runs and 62 RBIs on the season, both career highs. The Blue Jays’ front office decided to reward him by announcing they would non-tender him and he remains a free agent.
Despite the love many fans, and Marcus Stroman, have for him there was good reason. With the bases empty he hit .223/.297/.297. His WAR was below replacement level in 2017 with Fangraphs giving him -0.3 fWAR and Baseball Reference giving him -0.2 rWAR.
But hitting was never his reason for making the majors – it was his defence.
When he was first called to the majors in 2013 sbnation.com asked, “is Ryan Goins the Picasso of second base?” That September he had an outstanding 32 games and produced well above average defensive numbers. Despite not quite ever living up to that first glimpse, he was known as a solid above average defensive player.
In 2017, his defence was a different story. With Troy Tulowitzki, and Devon Travis hurt for most of the season, and Josh Donaldson on the DL for much of the spring, Goins was asked to field multiple positions and never quite got comfortable. In Games he wasn’t at second base, his defensive metrics were below average. His Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) at third base was -0.4 in 22 innings. More surprising are his numbers at short stop. In 670.1 innings at third his UZR was -4.7. Only at second base did he even appear average, with a UZR of 0.4.
An explanation for these numbers might simply be his inability to get comfortable playing multiple positions and he would improve with consistent playing time at second base. Worth noting, however, is that he is approaching age 30 and his 2016 defensive metrics weren’t much better. Fangraphs has him at exactly replacement level with a 0 dWAR at second base in 2016.
Given his age, inability to hit, and these declining defensive numbers, it remains entirely possible that Goins has seen his last game in the major leagues. Only time will tell – maybe Picasso can reinvent himself.
Non-tendered by the Blue Jays, currently a free agent
2017 Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: C-
Wesley James: D
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