Ryan Goins was many things: a golden child (at least defensively) of the Toronto Blue Jays organization, the co-star of Marcus Stroman’s social media, and a seemingly well respected guy in the clubhouse. His inexplicable ability to hit significantly better in clutch situations during the 2017 season ignited an already dedicated fan club among Blue Jays viewers.
Goins’ defensive prowess in the middle infield rendered his mediocre batting numbers acceptable over his first few MLB seasons, but as his defense declined, so did his value to the front office. As a shortstop, his UZR (ultimate zone rating) dropped from 2.3 in 2015 to -4.7 in 2017, and his DRS (defensive runs saved) also declined, from 5.7 in 2015 to -0.7 in 2017. With Goins projected to earn $1.8m this year in arbitration, the cost of retaining his services on a team where a player in his role would likely get more than his fair share of at-bats became too much of a hindrance.
As a result, his time with the Blue Jays ended abruptly last Friday night when the front office decided not to tender him a contract for 2018. While it is still technically possible for him to re-sign with the team in the future, as a homegrown player and fan favourite, I thought it would be worthwhile to take the time to reflect on Goins’ many years with the team.
Draft to MLB
Ryan Goins was selected by the Blue Jays in the 4th round (130th overall) of the 2009 amateur draft. He was playing for Dallas Baptist University, where he spent time both as a position player and as a pitcher (Goins would pitch one scoreless inning in the majors, but more on that later).
After signing with the Blue Jays, Goins slowly made his way through the Jays’ minor league teams, splitting his time between rookie ball, short season, low-A, and high-A before landing in AA in 2012. Notably, in his first at-bat in low-A on opening day of the 2010 season, Goins hit his first professional home run. While in the minors, he was considered an anchor of the infield, committing very few errors to secure a near perfect fielding percentage.
Goins spent 2012 in New Hampshire (AA), where he led the Eastern League in hits and was named both a mid-season Eastern League All-Star and the Blue Jays’ MiLB All-Star shortstop. He also played in the Arizona Fall League that winter.
After starting 2013 in Buffalo (AAA), Goins made his Major League Debut a few months later in August, collecting a hit in eight straight games (which tied Jesse Barfield’s club record for the longest hit streak by a rookie to begin his career). Goins posted a .993 fielding percentage at 2nd base, committing just one error in 148 chances. He also hit his first career MLB home run.
Goins bounced back and forth between Toronto and Buffalo for most of 2014, but appeared to settle in at the MLB level in April of 2015. On September 30th of that year, he recorded a career-high five hits, becoming the first shortstop in Blue Jays club history to do so.
While he often struggled to hit well with any degree of consistency, Goins’ defensive range was a thing of beauty, and his spectacular plays were a welcomed treat for Blue Jays fans (and Blue Jays pitchers).
Goins also got his first taste of postseason experience in 2015, going hitless (0-for-17 with 1 walk) in the ALDS versus Kansas City. He and Troy Tulowitzki also combined for one the slickest double plays you’ll see in Game 1. You might recall Goins’ defensive miscue in Game 2, when his failure to catch a pop-up kickstarted a Royals’ comeback, but he redeemed himself in Game 3 with a 2-run single and a monster homer.
In 2015, Goins also cemented himself in Blue Jays gif history after being prominently featured at the end of Jose Bautista’s infamous bat flip:
Over 128 games in 2015, Goins hit .250/.318/.354 with 5 HRs, .297 wOBA and 85 wRC+. He accumulated a bWAR of 1.8, and a fWAR of 1.5.
Goins made the Blue Jays opening day lineup in 2016, filling in at second base for Devon Travis, who was recovering from shoulder surgery. After a better season offensively in 2015, he struggled to hit well with any degree of consistency in the first half of 2016, going .176/.216/.308 in 58 games. He did however continue to bless us with magnificent defensive plays:
When they Jays ran out of pitchers the 18th inning of that mammoth Canada Day game against Cleveland, Goins stepped in and pitched a scoreless inning.
Unfortunately, this pitching stint landed him on the disabled list for a month with arm tightness. After spending a fair amount of time in Buffalo, Goins was recalled and ended up playing in the postseason for a second consecutive year, taking over for Devon Travis who had injured his knee.
A rather fun recollection from this season was when he showed up to batting practice in Seattle wearing a wig, in an attempt to help change the juju of his slumping team.
Over 76 games in 2016, Ryan hit .186/.228/.306 with 3 HRs, .232 wOBA and 38 wRC+. He was given a bWAR of -0.6, and a fWAR of -1.0.
Even though 2017 was a massively disappointing season for the Blue Jays, Goins had some fairly notable moments.
As previously mentioned, he was super clutch (which was most certainly a factor of luck, and is not sustainable):
Ryan Goins, bases empty: .183/.241/.254, 2 HR, 2 RBI— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) September 23, 2017
Ryan Goins, bases loaded: .714/.688/1.214, 2 HR, 20 RBI#BlueJays
Goins hit .330/.368/.540 with runners in scoring position in 2017. He had the 5th most RBIs on the team, achieving a MLB best (and franchise tying) 10-for-14 with the bases loaded.
He hit a very rare 2-run sac fly in May, at Yankee Stadium:
and walked off Cleveland in the Rogers Center, with a single off Cody Allen:
He hit his first career grand slam, in May, in Milwaukee:
Then he hit another one at home, in September, off the Yankees:
He played the hidden ball trick on Todd Frazier:
and continued to produce highlight reel worthy defensive plays:
Over 143 games in 2017, Goins hit .237/.286/.356 with 9 HRs, .278 wOBA and 69 wRC+. He was given a bWAR of -0.2 WAR, and a fWAR of -0.3. Over his Blue Jays career, he accumulated a mere 3.5 bWAR/0.0 fWAR, neither of which made a compelling argument to retain his services for what he was projected to cost.
Ryan Goins’ contributions to the team won’t soon be forgotten, and he will be sorely missed by many fans, but perhaps most of all, by Marcus Stroman.
What is your favourite Ryan Goins moment?