Kelly Johnson

The Braves seem to be set on KJ at second base, so he’d have to play himself out of the job or get hurt. I think he’s capable of matching his career minor league numbers (.281/.366/.464) which would make him one of the best-hitting second basemen in baseball (the only second basemen with higher OBPs last year were the Dark Lord Chase Utley and Jamey Carroll). It wouldn’t surprise me if he outhit that line. He certainly doesn’t have anything to prove in the minors, and he should be out of options anyway so he should be in the big leagues in some capacity.

Walks a bunch, as you know. In 2005 he had a lot of problems on pitches inside, on which he tended to hit weak grounders. It seemed to me that there were some pitches, strikes, which he just couldn’t drive. There are other strikes which he hammers. He was tremendously streaky in 2005 and probably will remain so.

The move to second base is interesting because it’s one position he has played little in the minors. He began as a shortstop, moved to the outfield because of numerous errors, but has played a fair amount of short and third in the minors. Last year, I believe he did play a little second in his brief availability. The elbow surgery that wiped out most of his 2006 will probably take some time from which to fully recover, meaning that he won’t throw well. That’s not likely to be a big problem at second.

The Braves intend to have him lead off. That’s good because he should have a high OBP, but he hasn’t been a basestealer in the high minors (he was pretty good at it on the lower levels). I don’t care a whole bunch but we’re sure to hear loads about it.

Kelly Johnson Baseball Statistics

64 thoughts on “Kelly Johnson”

  1. I don’t know–with a shaky pitching staff, it sure seems a gamble to put a guy in an up the middle infield position that has never played there before and has not shown himself to be a good fielder anywhere. He better hit a lot.

  2. I wonder if Bobby and JS know that they have one of the worst infield defenses in MLB. One of the slowest, at least!

  3. I’ve always been a fan of Kelly Jo. If Marcus had to be replaced by anyone, I can at least deal with him. I really hope he succeeds.

  4. @5

    Sure, why not? He managed to have league average slugging and got on base at a nice clip. I think he fit well for a second-place hitter.

  5. I’m excited about KJ. I’ve always really liked watching him play, and it was nice to see him bust out of that 0-28 that he started out with in ’05. I can get over bad defense if he gets on base and takes the extra base. That’s what I think is more valuable than stolen bases and bunt base hits.

  6. I agree. I’d like to see him win the 2B job, and Braves fans can worry about his and the rest of the infield defense if this team makes the playoffs.

  7. Honestly, I don’t buy any of this “worst infield defense” crap. Yes, I am aware of the stats, but until I see that our defense is costing us victories next season, I’m not going to believe it.

  8. Oh, and by the way, I do believe that Edgar could have a “monster” year, in that he could have an uncharacteristic 100+ OPS again.

  9. KJ might “better” Chase Utley? I suppose he could post a slightly higher OBP if everything breaks his way, but Utley is absloutely a superior player. Utley is probably a better hitter than any single player on the Braves roster, for that matter. I love the Braves, but I have to defend the amazing Mr. Utley.

  10. I meant that he could better his minor league numbers, not better Ace Chutley. Sorry, the sentence made sense when I wrote it.

    Sam, do you think it’s entirely a coincidence, or entirely Leo’s absence, that the Braves’ infield statistics collapsed at the same time as their pitching staff’s ERA? The difference between Hudson, 2005, and Hudson, 2006 is mostly the difference between Furcal and Renteria.

  11. I wish Ace Chumbley would just go to Coors Field and leave the division forever. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if he started hitting 50 homers and 150 RBIs a year as long as we didn’t have to play him as often.

    Here’s a trade proposal I just heard from Smitty’s barber:

    PHI: Mike Gonzalez, Paul Maholm, Jamey Carroll
    COL: Chase Utley
    PIT: Todd Helton

  12. This is the same KJ that lost his spot in LF to Langerhans in September of 2005. It seems like a big risk to hand the 2b and leadoff jobs to a player with as little and as mediocre big league experience as KJ especially coming off a full year layoff due to injury. I would have given it to Aybar or at least waited until after spring training to make a decision. I guess they are assuming Aybar will be playing 3rd a lot.

  13. Well I’m sure Aybar will get at least 60+ games at 3B this year. Its sad that Bonds is able to play more than our 3B!

  14. Ah come on, it’s only been the last two years that he hasn’t gotten 500 PAs. I think we should quit acting like it’s stitched in the future that Chipper is going to miss 50 games. I know the odds are against him to play a full season, but it’s not like it’s etched in stone. I think the Aybar-waiting-at-third thing is still a good call, but saying that Bonds is more durable than Chipper because of Chipper’s last two seasons is a little extreme.

  15. In a perfect world, I tend to lean more toward liking a good infield defender up the middle—depending on my team’s offensive makeup & as long as he’s not an automatic out at the plate.

    I just gotta see KJ play 2B before I pass any judgment on him.

  16. @13

    Yes, I do. Unless you can show me that an obscene amount of ground balls to left caused the Braves to lose games. That’s the problem, the left side of the infield, is it not?

  17. Rob I know, Chip will give us 120 to 130 games probably. I just like to get some conversations going in here. Its lonely in my cubicle

  18. Or bloop singles to left. I understand that Renteria is a bad defender, I can’t deny that, but I do not believe that his poor defense alone caused the Braves to lose so many games. I need proof.

  19. You may, of course, believe that. However, it is the official position of this blog that the Braves’ infield defense last year was atrocious, that the major reason was the move from a guy with great range at short to one who had very poor range, and that this more than the departure of Mazzone led to the pitching collapse. I have two previews already written (appearing next week) that touch on this.

  20. left side of the infield is the current problem. If KJ is at 2nd and we trade Laroche, then our whole infield is the problem. Renteria plays good defense on the balls he can get too, but thats not very many

  21. Realize also that my view is that infield defense is a system, and that part of the problem was that Chipper’s defense had been covered for by Furcal and was no longer, and that Marcus played very poorly in the field after four years of showing great range, either because he didn’t mesh with Renteria or because he was hurt.

  22. Utley is probably a better hitter than any single player on the Braves roster, for that matter.

    Better than Chipper? Um, no.

  23. That’s fine, Mac. The reason I reacted the way I did was that I thought you were basically blaming Renteria and Renteria alone for the reason that the pitching staff’s ERA rose.

  24. He’s probably not better than McCann, either, and last year LaRoche had a higher OPS+ as well. Remember that Ace gets a big break from his ballpark. Using the nifty “Neutralize Stats” tool on B-R, Utley’s .309/.379/.527 goes to a still fine .295/.363/.504.

  25. Well, yes, “all things considered.” But you were previously only considering “hitting,” in which case Chipper has the clear edge over Utley.

  26. All things considered, Utley scares me about as much as anyone in the NL. I’m sure a lot has to do with the fact that we face him so much & he seems to be on-deck every five minutes.

  27. I wish I knew what Ace Chumbley’s stats against us were. I know that he isn’t ACTUALLY batting .500/.600/.800 against us for his career, but it sure as hell seems like it. Has he ever had a game where he didn’t hit a three-run homer off us?

  28. Oh, that’s easy.

    Career batting splits

    .276 .386 .458 in 229 PA over 56 games. That’s actually a lower BA and SLG than his career norms, though the OBP is up because Smoltz walks him pretty much automatically now. It just seems like it, plus remember that prior to last year the Braves had a good pitching staff.

  29. Yeah, I was at that Saturday night game in Philly a couple years ago where Utley took Smoltz the closer deep with 2 outs in the 9th. I’ve been fearful ever since.

  30. And the pitch he hit was a good pitch. Way down and way in. That one still haunts my dreams; I’m sure it does Smoltz’s.

  31. Yeah, he golfed it out. I was sitting by the right field foul pole & didn’t think he got enough of it until I saw Andruw’s reaction. I sat down before it landed.

    But we got ’em back the next day—Hampton with a gem, if I remember correctly. The drive back to NYC wasn’t so bad.

  32. This may have been posted. It is available without subscription. I am surprised at Van Pope ahead of Campbell.
    Top 10 Prospects: Atlanta Braves

    1. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
    2. Elvis Andrus, ss
    3. Matt Harrison, lhp
    4. Brandon Jones, of
    5. Van Pope, 3b
    6. Eric Campbell, 3b
    7. Scott Thorman, 1b/of
    8. Jo-Jo Reyes, lhp
    9. Joey Devine, rhp
    10. Yunel Escobar, inf

  33. Baseball America also has
    both the Jones still playing in 2010

    PROJECTED 2010
    Catcher Brian McCann
    First Base Adam LaRoche
    Second Base Edgar Renteria
    Third Base Chipper Jones
    Shortstop Elvis Andrus
    Left Field Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    Center Field Andruw Jones
    Right Field Jeff Francoeur
    No. 1 Starter Tim Hudson
    No. 2 Starter Kyle Davies
    No. 3 Starter Matt Harrison
    No. 4 Starter Jo-Jo Reyes
    No. 5 Starter Chuck James
    Closer Rafael Soriano

  34. Mac, I hope you’re right about KJ equaling his minor league stats in the majors, but that usually doesn’t happen. I think we need to lower expectations, especially coming off an almost lost season.

    I’m sure you’re basing that on something though, so here’s hoping.

    The good thing about Johnson is that we have a solid core, and we can afford to roll the dice at a spot or two and try to get lucky. Johnson gives us that more so than bringing in some 30 + veteran.

  35. It may not happen right away, but I think KJ will. First, it’s my impression that players will, at their peak, hit roughly in the majors what they did in the minors, if they weren’t too advanced for their levels. Johnson actually was young for his levels until 2004. Second, KJ’s minor league numbers are dragged down by his disastrous stint in Myrtle Beach, where fly balls go to die.

    KJ’s translated stats from Richmond (from last year’s BP Annual) show a line of .279/.404/.506, actually a little better than his career minor league line.

    And if it doesn’t work, we have Aybar.

  36. With Jones, Rentaria and Johnson on D, Chuck James is even more valuable.
    Best Hitter for Average Jarrod Saltalamacchia
    Best Power Hitter Scott Thorman
    Best Strike-Zone Discipline Wes Timmons
    Fastest Baserunner Ovandy Suero
    Best Athlete Brandon Jones
    Best Fastball Neftali Feliz
    Best Curveball Cory Rasmus
    Best Slider Joey Devine
    Best Changeup Steve Evarts
    Best Control Matt Harrison
    Best Defensive Catcher Clint Sammons
    Best Defensive Infielder Van Pope
    Best Infield Arm Van Pope
    Best Defensive Outfielder Jordan Schafer
    Best Outfield Arm Jon Mark Owings

  37. When Yankee fans asked me what I thought about Sheffield leaving the Braves to come to The Bronx, my reply was: “Three for 30.”

    Reciting his 2-series Atlanta playoff numbers was the only real response that spoke their language. Him being a difficult ballplayer wasn’t really at the top of their concerns.

    Remember, this is a fanbase that put up with Reggie Jackson. You can be Charles Manson in the clubhouse, but if you hit 3 HRs to win a World Series clincher, they’ll give you a plaque and a Yankeeography on YES Network.

    Nobody really likes Reggie—the Munson stuff still burns—but Yankee fans are like Gen. Patton’s description: They love a winner & will not tolerate a loser. Kind of takes the fun out of the game, if you ask me, but when we’re talking about Gary Sheffield, I didn’t mind watching him walk that minefield.

    Three years later, Shef—to nobody’s surprise—is considered a douchebag in The Bronx, but again, moreso for his lame playoff performances.

    Overall, Shef’s NYY playoff numbers aren’t awful (22 for 81). But when you consider that he went 9 for 13 in the first 3 games of the 2004 ALCS—granted, all big wins that he was a part of—that puts him at 13 for 68 in the other 16 games, which is certainly lame.

    After his recent 1 for 12 in the Detroit series, they were thrilled to see him go. “And take Randy Johnson with you!”

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