Written by OTC Contributor James Sargent
Any baseball fan who is just now starting to tune in to this young major league season is probably thinking to themselves that the number one hitter in OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) is Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, or hell, even Pablo Sandoval. But no! It’s Arizona Diamondbacks’ new second baseman, Kelly Johnson.
Now I was taught that if your OPS is above .900, then you are having a spectacular season. Johnson, through 21 games, has an OPS of 1.202. That is absurd! The dude is mashing the ball, out of the park and in it. Yes, he leads the National League in homeruns with nine, but he is also leading in extra base hits with 17 as well. Johnson is also batting .320 with 18 RBIs and 17 runs scored.
As a D-Back fanatic, this is absolutely the best start Kelly could have had this year. I knew, coming into this season, Johnson was going to be an upgrade, but I did not picture it this sweet to start. He has fit into the leadoff role very nicely, and taken the place of Conor Jackson quite well. With Johnson’s success, there is no way A.J. Hinch can even think about putting Jackson back at leadoff. You might as well leave Johnson just where he is because you don‘t want to fix something that isn‘t broken.
Last season was a throwaway year for Johnson, as he lost his full-time starting position with the Braves and had a career low batting average of .224. He also only tallied eight homeruns on the season while driving in 29 runs. Yuck. Now, with nine homeruns, he is already one over what he did all of last year. Not to mention, he has “homered” in five of his last seven games. This is starting to get ridiculous, but hey, I’ll take it without question.
Now with this month of April over, the question I ask is, “Can Kelly Johnson keep this head full of steam up for the entire season?” My answer, “No!” But wouldn’t it be something. I mean when you think of National League second basemen, power hitter is definitely not what I think. Don‘t get me wrong, you do get the Chase Utleys, Dan Ugglas and Brandon Phillips, but typically it is common that second base in the NL is not a power position.
Johnson is entering his fifth season in the majors and had been an average second baseman at best during his years in Atlanta. I feel with his new colors and new team, he can start showing the league what he is truly made of. This season will hopefully put Johnson on the map with other elite second basemen around the league if he can play his cards right. Go get ‘em, Kelly! Show the Atlanta Braves that it was a mistake to let you go!
What is it with Diamondback players with the last name Johnson always trying to hit birds?