Chipper Who? Well, let’s not go too far.
Chris Johnson was the “throw in” piece in the deal that brought Justin Upton over from Arizona. Initially he was considered to be a back up, possible platoon partner for Juan Francisco and a right handed bench bat. After Johnson started the season red hot, Fredi was forced to play him more. Most Braves fans were happy he was doing well, but figured it was only a matter of time before he “regressed.”
Well, he didn’t regress. He actually got better. Johnson was playing so well that Francisco was demoted to the Brewers. In fact, Johnson finished second in the league in batting (.321) and may have been the biggest positive surprise on the team last year.
There are a couple of knocks on Johnson, both of which may be over exaggerated. First, he isn’t Brooks Robinson at third base. He did commit 14 errors and was a -.7 DWAR player last year. I feel he actually improved his fielding by the end of the year. I was impressed with his arm too. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a late inning handcuff for him and we only need him to field balls hit right at him. Simba will get the rest.
Secondly, Johnson is quick to throw a tantrum on the field when he fails. This all came to a head late in the season when he failed to beat out a throw to first and threw his helmet, which hit Terry Pendelton. Let’s just say TP wasn’t too pleased.
Is it reasonable to expect Johnson to have the same type of season? Probably not. I would imagine he will come back to earth some. In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a .300-.310 hitter with an OPS around .800. I think we would all be pleased with that.
But we all know what happened last year when we expected him to regress…