Ryan Goins

We Need to Stop Saying Ryan Goins is Bad, Even if He Is

It’s been a frustrating stretch in a frustrating season. Over the last week, the Blue Jays have lost games despite late leads, including one instance against a White Sox team that looks more triple-A than Major League caliber. As the season moves into mid-August, there has been plenty of bad to talk about, even with the Jays sitting within 4.5 games of the second wild card spot.

One of these talking points has been the abysmal performance of Ryan Goins. Goins, the team’s utility infielder (and sometimes outfielder/relief pitcher) has been thrust into a more prominent role with injuries to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis. Known as a light hitting, defense-first shortstop, Goins has seen his defensive numbers dip this season, leading to what many feel is a compounding of the problem. But we need to stop saying Ryan Goins is bad, because even if he is, it doesn’t really matter.

Many come to the defense of Ryan Goins by arguing it’s unfair or unreasonable to call him bad because he is a major league caliber player. Without a doubt, this makes him one of the very best athletes on the planet. While entirely true, this argument also misses the point. Goins is a bad player relative to other major league players – an implied premise important to remember in any discussion about a professional athlete’s skills. At least it should be. If you want to argue your buddy who played in college is a better hitter than Ryan Goins, you’re on your own. Don’t say Goins is good because he plays in the major leagues, even if no one you know is good enough to do the same.

But this is where I lose the Goins critics. I understand what they mean when they say he’s bad, but what I don’t understand is why Goins’ play is worth complaining about.

Ryan Goins is the Blue Jays’ backup middle infielder. Most backup infielders are not very good. To this point:





Ryan Goins

Blue Jays



Alexi Amarista




Jonathan Villar




Allen Cordoba




Brad Miller




Danny Espinosa




Taylor Motter




The Rockies hold one of the two National League wild card positions. The Rays are tied for the second wild card spot in the American League. The Mariners sit one game back in the AL wild card race and the Brewers are a game and a half behind the Cubs in the National League Central. All these teams have managed to stay in contention despite a lack of production from backup middle infielders thrust into starting roles.

Criticism of Goins are a lot like the criticism of former Blue Jays backup catcher, Josh Thole – they might not be great players, but almost no team has the luxury of carrying backups that can add a considerable amount of value. Don’t forget that with Thole gone, this year’s predominant backup catcher, Luke Maile, produced more negative value (-0.4 WARP) in less playing time. The idea a team can replace a starting middle infielder with a quality player is more the exception than the rule. Those players wouldn’t be backups for very long. For every Ian Happ, there are far more Danny Espinosas.

Furthermore, Darwin Barney(.238/.289/.305) could just as easily have been included in the chart above but seems to attract far less criticism than Goins. The fact the Blue Jays are running out two players putting up these kinds of numbers is definitely not a good thing, either. Perhaps knowing the injury histories of Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays front office should have prioritized acquiring a stronger backup middle infielder in the offseason (although this failure is not Goins’ fault either). But in general, this is what you’ll see on any MLB club when a regular player goes down with an injury.

Aside from some small-sample defensive statistics, Goins is more or less the same player that he’s always been. Is he a flawed player? Yes. He’s also a player that didn’t prevent the Blue Jays from making back-to-back American League Championship series appearances the previous two seasons.

There are many real problems with the 2017 Blue Jays: Injuries to Josh Donaldson, Devon Travis and Aaron Sanchez; the offensive struggles of Jose Bautista and the loss of Edwin Encarnacion’s bat in the lineup; the inconsistent performance of Marco Estrada; and Troy Tulowitzki hitting like Ryan Goins before he went on the DL.

The same way that one great player can’t make a baseball team good (try as Mike Trout might), one poor player isn’t responsible for a team being bad, either. It’s not ideal that he’s receiving more playing time than in years past, but that is a symptom of problems bigger than Goins’ own performance.

That’s why Ryan Goins being Ryan Goins isn’t the problem with the 2017 Blue Jays. We shouldn’t get frustrated and pretend like his is.

Lead Photo © Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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2 comments on “We Need to Stop Saying Ryan Goins is Bad, Even if He Is”


This is a good article. Goins is fine as a backup, and on a good team wouldn’t be playing every day. I do think a lot of the pushback comes against Jays media types (Tabler, Howarth, Buck) who have prattled on for years about how good of a hitter he is going to be with consistent playing time, and it’s just not true.


Batting average be damned. Goins hits when it counts. Look at his BA with ducks on the pond. If some of our other “stars” followed suit maybe we wouldn’t have the worst tra average with RISP in the league.

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