Goins' Hot Start Doesn't Solve 2B Issues For Jays
Ryan Goins hit .257/.311/.369 in 111 games with the Bisons. [screengrab via Sportsnet]
Not to dump on the guy's parade, but let's temper expectations with recent callup Ryan Goins.
The 25-year-old has created a semi-buzz in Toronto baseball circles since making his major league debut last week. He has hit, made some strong defensive plays -- including being in the middle of a perfect relay to nail the league's biggest villain, Alex Rodriguez, at the plate in Wednesday's win over the Yankees -- and he's doing it at a position which revealed itself as one of the Blue Jays' weakest this season, second base.
Goins, Triple-A Buffalo's starting shortstop before becoming the latest Bison to make the trip up the QEW to Toronto, has played the part of a big leaguer well, and given Blue Jays fans someone to root for, something to be excited about over the last month of a miserable season. We already know that a lot of the minor leaguers who have been summoned to Toronto this year -- Moises Sierra, Kevin Pillar, Todd Redmond, et al. -- are unlikely to be part of the Blue Jays' plans in 2014, unless the club is crushed with injuries again.
But what about Goins?
Well, let's consider a few things before we start talking about Goins as the club's starting second baseman for 2014.
First off, he has played six games at the big-league level. A couple hitless contests and that .455/.478/.545 line will start resembling Emilio Bonifacio's more so than Miguel Cabrera's. Haven't we seen this so many times before to know that projecting anything after a six-game sample is not the way you do it? How many times does a callup garner the attention of many early on -- Travis Snider, anyone? -- only to come back down to earth once being exposed to the highest level over a longer stretch?
If we're being honest with ourselves, we know Goins is getting an opportunity based more so on necessity than merit.
Goins hit .257/.311/.369, good for a .680 OPS, in 111 games with the Bisons. He doesn't have pop, doesn't swipe bases and, while his walk totals have been solid in the minors, he's not an on-base machine. The 2009 fourth rounder had a 109 wRC+ with Class A Dunedin in 2011, which dropped to 105 at Double-A New Hampshire in 2012 -- when he led the Eastern League in hits -- before plummeting to 89 this season with Buffalo. His numbers dipped across the board at his highest minor league stop, including his walk rate, while his strikeout rate soared to over 20%.
Something to chew on:
Goins is a career .273/.330/.376 hitter with a 7.8% BB rate and 17.2% K rate over 2165 plate appearances at the minor-league level. Incumbent second baseman Maicer Izturis is a .269/.331/.372 hitter with a 8% BB rate and 10.6% K rate over 3312 plate appearances at the big-league level. Now, this isn't to say that Izturis should be Toronto's starting second baseman next season -- the club needs to attempt to do better, and convert him into a super-utility role -- but he is clearly the better option as of today.
Spending, as we saw this year, isn't necessarily the solution, but the Blue Jays don't have great internal options at second. And Brett Lawrie, who is one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball, and whose bat is starting to play up the way many thought it would, is not the answer, either. He's a third baseman, and the guess here is that the Blue Jays view him as such, too.
There is nothing wrong with rooting for Goins. In fact, that's exactly what Blue Jays fans should be doing.
If Goins can impress down the stretch, and again during spring training, and force his way into the discussion for the 2014 Opening Day roster, it means he's doing something right. On the other hand, if Goins is the Blue Jays' starting second baseman next season, it more than likely means Toronto whiffed on an opportunity to upgrade at a position it sorely needed to improve.
The reality is that Goins could use some extra seasoning getting everyday at-bats at the Triple-A level before he's an option on the 25-man roster -- whether it's as a starter or in a utility role.