Screw the sample size — Ryan Goins is a clutch hitter.
With a grand slam in the sixth inning on Friday night to give the Toronto Blue Jays an 8-1 victory over the New York Yankees, Goins continued his unbelievable stretch as a seemingly situational hitter with runners in scoring position in 2017.
He has a .365 on-base percentage in high-leverage situations, as defined by Baseball Reference, compared to a .247 OBP in low-leverage situations — a difference of more than one-tenth of a full point.
Still, Goins is just short of 100 plate appearances in those high-leverage instances, while having collected 174 in low-leverage instances. It’s a small sample size that’s weighted towards better performance based on how a pitcher tends to be playing at any given time, but boy — has it ever been fun to watch him.
Goins didn’t simply contribute offensively. In the field, he pulled off a slick hidden-ball trick to catch Todd Frazier off of second base.
Baseball is fun.
When Goins hit his grand slam, the score was already 4-1 in Toronto’s favour. Earlier, a pair of home runs from Teoscar Hernandez and Russell Martin showed how varied the long ball can be, with poorly-weighted results.
Hernandez reached the Level of Excellence in left field with his home run ball. Martin’s barely cleared the right field wall.
Jose Bautista, in perhaps his third-to-last home game at the Rogers Centre, scored the first run of the game with a ground ball to combat a Yankees’ run in the top of the first. Immeasurable were his strong plays in right field, reminiscent of better defensive days.
But even with the impending closure of Bautista’s authentic career, Goins was in the spotlight on Friday night — perhaps appropriately so — to bring the Blue Jays the win.
And Goins wasn’t just good at timing his hits to correspond with having runners in scoring position — his mother and father were at Friday’s game.