In his first stint in the big leagues in 2005, Kelly Johnson impressed management with his performance and Chipper-like swing enough to earn him the starting second base job despite a mediocre spring. Now, 10 games into the season he is only hitting .167 in 36 at-bats. While some fans are calling for his head already, I am more optimistic that this is a mere fluke to begin the season.
If you break down his numbers, Johnson has shown good power already with 2 homers and 2 doubles in his 6 hits so far this season. What is more impressive than that, is his walk and strikeout rate. He comes into tonight's game against the Marlins with 7 walks to only 4 strikeouts. That means it isn't his plate discipline that is causing these problems, and if you stretch that out to a conservative guess of† 600 plate appearances, he is on pace to end the season with 98 walks and 56 strikeouts. Those are very nice numbers for a leadoff man. Generally, if a player with his track record of hitting keeps up good plate discipline, it is a sign that their average will rise because they are putting the ball in play, just not getting hits.
If you have been watching all the games, Johnson has been making good contact and hitting the baseball right at defenders. It is only a matter of time before those balls start finding holes. This reminds me quite a bit of his start in '05. Good contact and bad luck leads to a low batting average. I expect that soon his luck will change and still expect Johnson to get his average up to around .270, and with his patience at the plate, an OBP of near or above .400 is not out of the question. Think Kevin Youkilis with a bit more pop and speed.