2018 Royals Season Preview – Ryan Goins

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20: Ryan Goins
CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 20: Ryan Goins /

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2009 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, expectations have been high for Ryan Goins since day one. After batting .228 in five major-league seasons with Toronto, it’s safe to say he hasn’t played up to them. Having signed a one-year, minor-league contract with the Royals, can Goins resurrect his career in his age-30 season? 

If you haven’t read my Kings of Kauffman season preview for Alcides Escobar, I highly recommend it. Each article will have a link to a previous season preview in the first main body paragraph: just click on the player’s name. Escobar was a surprising re-signing by the team, but one that will provide stability for an infield that is surrounded by uncertainty ahead of the season. A signing that didn’t catch many by surprise, but still caught a few eyes was the Ryan Goins move. Many of you may remember him for his blunder on a bloop single by Ben Zobrist in the 2015 ALCS. Hopefully, you can learn to recognize him for plays like this one:

No one is completely sure what the Royals are getting into with this move. Is the team getting a year-long minor leaguer? A super-utility player that will spend the majority of his season in the MLB? Goins’ status for the season is up in the air. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract (with up to $825,000 in incentives) with the club on January 24 that includes an invite to Spring Training. With shortstop and second base currently occupied, Goins may have to show the Royals what he has to offer at other positions in order to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. Is he up to the challenge?

What did he offer last season?

In a career-high 143 games for the Blue Jays last season, Goins hit .237 with a career-high slugging percentage of .356. His on-base percentage of .286 indicates potential to draw some walks (because his BA is 49 points lower), but nothing out of the ordinary. Goins was not and still is not much of a power hitter. Also adding a career-high nine home runs and 62 RBIs, Goins made the most of his playing time and put together his most productive season to date. Although he graded out with a slightly negative WAR overall, Goins wasn’t necessarily a horrible player in 2017. He somewhat resembled a replacement-level one.

A shortstop who has little power, struggles to get on base, doesn’t steal bases but has a good glove? Sounds a lot like Alcides Escobar. The only major difference between the two is Escobar trades a good glove for a great one and Goins trades a great glove at one position for a solid one at many positions. Spending time at shortstop, second base, third base and in the outfield last season, Goins showcased his versatility.

What can we expect in 2018?

Apparently, Steamer doesn’t think Goins will turn many heads at Spring Training – at least according to these projections:

  • 25 games played (down from 143)
  • .244 batting average (up from .237)
  • 1 HR (down from 9)
  • 9 RBI (down from 62)
  • .355 SLG (down from .356)
  • .298 OBP (up from .286)

Interesting. Very interesting. It’s hard to say whether or not Goins will earn a spot right out of Spring Training, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark and take over 25 games, 1 HR, and 9 RBI. This is a situation that’s very hard to project. Goins could end up playing 100+ games this season or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, could struggle this Spring and not see the major leagues until September. I’m going to take slightly under on batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage as well. I expect percentages nearly identical to last season but in fewer games. I could end up being dead wrong on every projection (for better or worse) – this is just a realistic set of expectations for a player who doesn’t even have a spot on the 25-man roster yet.

The verdict 

Ryan Goins is not going to save the Kansas City Royals. He strongly resembles someone already on the roster (Escobar) and is going to be 30 in February. Unless he’s been hiding his talent for the past five years, what you see is what you’re going to get.  A great Spring Training could catapult him to a spot on the 25-man roster, but a rough Spring could send him to the minor leagues for quite a while. As of right now, it’s just not wise to expect Ryan Goins to be an everyday, consistent contributor for the Royals in 2018.

What do you think, Royals fans? Will Goins end up starting by the end of the season? Was last season the best effort anyone will ever see out of him? Let us know what you have to say!