By Patrick Allen
Canadian Baseball Network
Currently in the midst of their most successful stretch of the 2017 season, the Toronto Blue Jays’ recent success is in part due to the impressive play of infielder Ryan Goins, who has seen a resurgence of sorts in his offensive production.
An elite defender, Goins’s struggles in the batter’s box are well publicized. Owning a career slash line of .224/.272/.329, Goins’s inability to complement his gold glove calibre defence with serviceable offensive production has prevented the Texas native from ever adequately shedding the tag of a fringe major leaguer.
Midway through the 2015 season it appeared as if Goins may have overcome his offensive woes, when, at the advice of Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby, the then 27-year-old began altering his approach at the plate, the most notable adjustment being Goins resting his bat atop his shoulder before setting up his swing. The small tweak worked.
Goins went on to set career highs in nearly every offensive category and finished the 2015 season with a .250/.318/.354 slash line. More than enough production for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons to safely appoint Goins as the team’s every day second baseman, creating one of the most feared middle infields in all of baseball. Despite the flickers of optimism that bloomed from his late season flurry, Goins struggled mightily at the plate in 2016, failing to register a batting average above .200, and subsequently becoming an afterthought to Devon Travis and Darwin Barney in the Blue Jays’ pecking order.
As a result, the 29-year-old entered the offseason with his future, not just as a Toronto Blue Jay but as a major leaguer, very much dependent on his ability to find some level of consistency in his offensive production.
In an attempt to right the ship, Goins entered Opening Day 2017 with a newly modified swing, abandoning the resting bat that had borne fruit for him in the past, and opting instead for a more active approach at the plate, similar to the one he had previously employed in the minors.
This change in approach did not immediately pay dividends, as Goins, fighting for starts in a busy Toronto infield, struggled at the plate to begin the season, posting a .200 average in April and March.
It was only after his playing time spiked in the aftermath of injuries to Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki that Goins’s offensive production began to climb, with the infielder sporting an improved slash line of .234/.288/.362 and nine RBI so far in the month of May. He has also seen his strikeout percentage on the season shrink to 16.5 percent, compared to 24.5 in 2016.
As encouraging as these numbers may be, it remains far too early to draw any conclusions from Goins’s production with his newly modified swing, especially considering his history of inconsistency.
For the time being, however, Blue Jays fans can at least take solace in the fact that Goins’s apparent resurgence is just one of the promising trends that appear to surround the ball club as they attempt to make up ground in the American League.
- Follow Patrick Allen on Twitter (@PatrickAllen92)