Oh man. There are a lot of things for Jays fans to be excited about so far this season: Colby Rasmus looks like he’s figuring it out; Edwin Encarnacion has figured it out to the point that he’s been officially handed the cleanup hitter’s role; Brett Lawrie is being Brett Lawrie and that gets people excited even if he’s not yet playing as well as he’s capable of playing; the pitching!
Yes, there’s a lot of to be excited about. But there’s one guy who seems to be flying under the radar. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t seem to have a personality that lights the world on fire. Perhaps it’s because his offensive production isn’t the flashiest. Perhaps it’s because your Toronto Blue Jays had to trade John McDonald and someone other scrub to get him.
Whatever the reason for the lack of attention, Kelly Johnson doesn’t seem to be getting the respect he deserves. Not from the vast online community of Jays fans, anyway.
First off, his defence has been pretty outstanding. Not only has he shown great range, he’s made some flashy plays, too. Check out this gif lovingly swiped from BlueJaysGifs. (you might have to click the gif to get it to play, depending.)
Aaron Hill who?
Secondly, the man is a beast at the plate. Yeah, yeah, small sample size. Yeah, yeah, his batting average is only .246. Who cares about batting average? I don’t. And neither does Billy Beane.
“He gets on base a lot. Do I care if it’s a walk or a hit?”
— Billy Beane
Johnson may only be hitting .246, but holy patience, Jays fans! His OBP is .395. The man knows how to control the strike zone and how to draw a walk.
Johnson’s offensive calling card has always been his ability to get on base. In 2010, he saw a crazy spike in power and went from hitting 8 home runs the year before to 26. And then, so the story goes, Johnson tried to be a home run hitter. Because chicks dig the long ball, probably. Anyway, it screwed his game up and he stopped getting on base.
Well, we here in Toronto know how that story plays out for second basemen. The aforementioned Hill did a similar thing. In 2009, a whole arse load of his doubles turned into home runs. “This is fun! Let’s keep going deep!” And he was never the same again. To be fair, Hill seems to be doing a little better since landing in Arizona. But, to be fair, it’s the NL West.
Anyway. Johnson appears to be back to his old self. Getting on base like a champ. And that’s the most important thing you can ask for from the guy hitting in front of Jose Bautista, even if Jose Bautista is not yet doing Jose Bautista-shaped things on a regular basis.
Oh, and while Johnson is showing his crazy patience, he’s nailing his pitch when he gets it. He’s tied for the team lead in home runs!
Patience and power? Yes please.