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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Second Baseman They Don't Want At Second

Position: Second Base
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205 lbs.
2009 Age: 27

Johnson's name kept popping up in trade rumors in the 2008 off-season; at one point, he was rumored to be traded to St. Louis straight up for outfielder Ryan Ludwick. It was also rumored that he would be moved to left if the Braves had signed Rafael Furcal or traded for Brian Robets. As it stands, Johnson will remain at second, and he should.

At the dish, Johnson continued to be streaky. His selective approach at the plate allowed him to garner 52 walks. but he also missed a lot, striking out 113 times. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but his OBP dropped from .375 to .349. That may have been due to the fact that he was batting in the lower end of the order, but it may be a slight concern.

His defense, though much maligned, isn't that bad; his RF was 4.77 (4.07) and RF9 was 5.16 (4.83). His only problem seems to be the backhand going to his right. Kelly's position as the Atlanta second sacker is secure. For now.

SIZZLING SEPTEMBER, OR FUN WITH SMALL SAMPLE SIZES, PART FOUR: Johnson smacked pitchers around in the last month of the season, going .398/.429/.643 with three homers and 19 RBIs. That was his best RBI month by five.

TABLE SETTER: When he's the first batter in an inning, and that occurred 133 times last season, Kelly .314/.391/.458 with 11 doubles and two homers. He scored 26 runs as well.

HE LIKES PICKING AND CHOOSING: In all of Kelly's three ball counts (120 PAs), Kelly batted just .192 (13-68), but he had 52 walks in those counts, making his OBP .542.

LUCKY AGAINST LEFTIES: Last season, Kelly batted .333/.366/.433 against lefties in 165 PAs. However, it may have been mostly luck; his BABIP (Batting average with balls in play) was .398.

My Outlook: Johnson has made a bumpy, but successful transition to second base. In just his second year, he has firmly set himself in the middle-tier of second basemen in the National League. He will continue that this year, easily.

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