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The season that was: Ryan Goins

A look at Ryan’s 2017 season.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Boston Red Sox Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the 2017 season we were wondering if Ryan Goins would be with the team. Darwin Barney had a $2.9 million contract and Ryan was out of options. It was hard to see how the team would keep two utility players.

But, at the start of the season, the Jays decided to release Melvin Upton, which came as a surprise to us, to make room for Ryan.

As it turned out, with many injuries on the infield, we needed all the utility infielders we could find, and Goins was the best of a rather sorry lot. Goins would set a career high in games played and plate appearances.

Year   Age   G  AB  R  H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+ GDP
2017    29 143 418 37 99 21  1  9  62  3  2 31 96 .237 .286 .356 .643   68  14

Baseball Reference has him at a -0.2 WAR. FanGraphs at -0.3, giving him a value of $-2.7 million to the Jays.

Ryan had a .278 wOBA and a 69 wRC+.

Compared to 2016, Ryan walked more (6.8%, up from 4.6) and struck out less, (20.9%, down from 24.5).

He hit more line drives (14.9%, up from 11.3), fewer ground balls (50.3%, from 53.4) and had slightly fewer fly balls (34.8%, from 35.3). More of his fly balls left the park (8.0%, up from 6.4). His hard contact rate was about the same (27.7%, from 27.5).

His BABIP was .283, up from .235 last year.

He hit right-handers (.235/.283/.367), maybe, kind of, slightly better than left-handers (.246/.303/.304).

He hit slightly better on the road (.242/.284/.379) than at home (.231/.289/.332).

And, as you may have heard (nobody talked about it), Ryan hit great with RISP (.330/.368/.540) and was amazing with bases loaded (.714/.688/1.214, in 16 PA). With bases empty he hit .199/.255/.286.

He was better in the 2nd half (.267/.305/.385) than the first (.203/.265/.325).

Ryan by month:

  • April: .200/.265/.333, with 1 home run in 19 games.
  • May: .231/.299/.372 with 3 home runs in 25 games.
  • June: .192/.250/.308 with 0 home runs in 21 games.
  • July: .200/.239/.277 with 0 home runs in 23 games.
  • August: .280/.313/.376 with 2 home runs in 27 games.
  • September: .271/.315/.424 with 3 home runs in 28 games.

August and September were pretty good.

Defensively? UZR had him at -9.8/150 at short. At second he was a 1.7 UZR/150. It did seem that we didn’t see as many highlight reel plays as in the past. When we did get them, well they were as good as ever.

He rarely makes errors, 4 at short, 3 at second.

He played 80 games at short, 48 games at second, 7 games at third. And he pinch hit 11 times (he had 3 singles, .273/.273/.273 line).

FanGraphs had him a -0.8 runs.

His longest hitting streak was 10 game. Longest on base streak 12 games. The longest he went without a home runs was 44 games.

His favorite team to face? He hit .400/.455/1.355 with a home run in 4 games vs the Brewers.

Least favorite? Well, he was 0 for 18 with no walks, in 4 games vs the Braves.

He hit:

6th in 14 games.

7th in 25 games.

8th in 36 games.

9th in 43 games.

Ryan is 3rd in tenure among active Jays, behind Loup and Pillar.

So, the most interesting, most talked about thing about Ryan is his hitting with RISP and his hitting with the bases loaded. He’s an All-Star with RISP. If he could hit the same with bases empty, he wouldn’t be a utility player.

I’ll be curious to see if he can do it again next year. I get the feeling that, early in the season, the numbers with RISP were something of a fluke, random chance. Then he started getting told about it, started believing in it and, well, confidence is a great thing. You start believing you are good at something, that’s a big step towards becoming good at it.

I wish he could be convinced he’s that good all the time.

I don’t know how rate someone who’s very very good with RISP and so terrible the rest of the time. There is a value to hitting well with runners on, but then there is a value to hitting the rest of the time too.

Zaun suggested moving him up to 4th in the batting order to give him more chances with RISP and see if the split is real. I don’t think much to the idea, other than it was a lost season anyway, it wouldn’t have hurt to try something stupid. But, I can’t think of too many things more stupid than batting Goins cleanup.

I don’t know what his future with the team is. The front office is making noises about getting a better backup for the middle infield spots. I’m all for the idea. The odds of both Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis making it through the season without long stints on the DL are pretty long. If we are expecting to compete, I’d think we’d have to do better than Goins and Barney playing the majority of the season in the middle of the infield.

Can he put together a better season with the bat?

I’m sure it is possible, but he’ll be 30 in February. He’s played 5 seasons, he’s had OPS+ numbers of 66, 35, 83, 42 and 68. Each season we are told he’s figured things out, and each season is much like the last, with slightly declined defensive stats.

If there is something real to his RISP numbers, then, well, maybe he can find a way to hit the same the rest of the time?

He seems to be a likable guy. He must be. No one gets 1397 PA, with a 64 career OPS+ without being a good guy. He has charmed the Jays media. You hear glowing comments about him all the time. Half the media seems to want to be his personal cheerleader.

Of course, being a good guy does have a value. If you are a replacement level player, you should be a good guy.

Fans always like the utility guy. John McDonald and Munenori Kawasaki were both everyone’s favorites. And there is always a segment of the fanbase that thinks the backup should be the starter.

Like last year, we go into the winter not knowing if he will be with the team next year. Personally, I’m ok with him being on the team, but, if he gets 459 at bats again next year, I won’t be happy. I’d like him to have more of a true utility role, being a defensive replacement and getting the 100 to 200 PA that a utility player should get. If he plays full time again, it’s tough to see how we can be competitive.