He was the man who made the impossible seem possible.
After employing five different players to man second base during the 2013 season, the Toronto Blue Jays finally managed to find someone who could make the routine plays at second base. And it only took them three-quarters of the season to find him.
That man was Ryan Goins.
Anybody who displayed some semblance of range would automatically look like a Gold Glover next to Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis, but Ryan Goins actually did a decent job in a relatively short time at second base.
If you think about it, it’s kind of baffling how Goins’ natural position is shortstop, and yet he made second base look nearly effortless. And yet he spent a grand total of 32 games at second base in the minors compared to 478 at his native position of shortstop.
Perhaps Ryan Goins’ experience at shortstop does translate into great second baseman skills. After all, he has a tremendous arm, his range is pretty decent, not to mention he quickly became accustomed to the tricky turf at the Rogers Centre, as evidenced below.
It might sound like sacrilege in these parts, but Ryan Goins has even drawn comparisons to the Blue Jays most prolific second baseman in franchise history, Roberto Alomar. That’s pretty high praise for a guy who’s only spent 32 big league games at second.
Ryan Goins’ defensive prowess hasn’t really come into question, but there are some concerns as to whether he could handle the day-in day-out duties of an every day big league second baseman. And there is certainly a lot of validity with those concerns.
How often do rookies get called up and are almost immediately handed the reins to a big league job? Let alone, how often does that scenario take place and those rookies hit the ground running and never relinquish the position? A player who did exactly that, Dustin Pedroia, is quite a rare find.
The Blue Jays could likely find out pretty quickly if Goins can survive the pressure-cooker environment. Even if he cracks the Opening Day roster as the starting second baseman, in this case the Blue Jays might be better off with the devil they know than the devil they don’t.
If the Blue Jays do in fact bring in a new second baseman via free agency or trade, they once again run the risk of duplicating the Bonifacio/Izturis defensive debacle on the field.
Will Ryan Goins be good enough to start everyday at second base? So long as the Blue Jays can make up the offense somewhere else in the lineup, they can likely afford to have a light-hitting second baseman on the roster. So long as he’s a sure-handed fielder, defense will be a premium.
And with a top half of a lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, as well as Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, runs shouldn’t be hard to come by.
An increase in offensive production may negate the dropoff in defense, but it sounds like the Blue Jays front office are looking to do the opposite at a few key positions; namely catcher and second base.
Goins doesn’t even necessarily have to win the second baseman’s job outright, either. If the Blue Jays employ some sort of makeshift platoon where Ryan Goins starts four or five games a week and Maicer Izturis gets the rest, that could be a good compromise.
I guess what I’m hoping is that the Blue Jays can find a second base option within the organization rather than sign an unknown commodity and just hope for the best. Because there would be nothing better than to see some homegrown talent contribute in an everyday aspect.
Part of me wishes that Goins will somehow develop into the next Dustin Pedroia; a slick-fielding second baseman who also is one of the toughest outs in baseball. But if the Blue Jays can’t have the Pedroia-like offense, I’d certainly take the defense as a consolation prize.
Ryan Goins might not be a Dustin Pedroia-calibre second baseman, but if the Blue Jays don’t at least give him an opportunity to play every day, they’ll never know for sure.
Image courtesy of Rant Sports