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johnson-settling-in | April | 2007 Articles

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Johnson Settling In

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Bobby Cox and the rest of Braves management drew a lot of flack for sticking with the converted outfielder while Martin Prado outhit him in spring training. Guess what, those doubters were wrong! If Kelly Johnson keeps this pace, I don't think anyone will be able to complain about the lack of a leadoff man on this team. Johnson, who came into tonight's game batting .245 has been tearing the cover off the ball of late as he is now 8/12 (.750) in his last three games. Rich Hill pitched an absolute gem against the Braves, but Johnson certainly got his hacks in. The young second baseman went 2/3 with a walk and a double on Thursday night to bring his line to .269/.397/.462, and even with a batting average below .270 that is a very good line for a leadoff man. That slugging percentage would have been better on any other night since that wind blowing in kept Kelly from rounding the bases at his leisure. The more I see Johnson, the more I like him. I always liked his bat and especially his swing but until now the skills that make him a great leadoff man weren't in plain sight. Not only is he hitting around .270 and climbing, but the guy is on pace for almost 120 walks and only 54 strikeouts. In a lineup with all or nothing swingers like Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur that provides a valuable change of pace. Kelly Johnson had been putting the ball in play but right at people, much like his callup in 2005, and much like the end of that year, those balls have started falling for hits. He is getting a lot of liners and when you have as good plate discipline as KJ brings to the table, that is a formula for success. I liked him before the season, supported him through his tough start, and now I am going to make a bold prediction that you can feel free to discuss. By the end of the season, barring any major injuries, Johnson will have hit .290/.390/.460 with 16 HRs and 19 SBs. I truly believe Johnson could establish himself as one of the top second basemen in baseball now that we know he can play defense with the big boys. Now, I open up the comments for anyone who wants to tell me how ridiculous my prediction is.

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