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batting-leadoff-and-playing-second-baseits-kelly-johnson | March | 2007 Articles

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Batting Leadoff and Playing Second BaseÖitís Kelly Johnson!

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I never realized how much fans loved Giles until his departure was announced.† Then came the news, shocking to some, that Kelly Johnson was going to make the move from the outfield to 2B over the off-season and compete for the job.† I was probably one of the few who didn't mind letting Giles go.† While he was a good 2B and had a great personality, I felt like we needed someone who could step up and play both 2B and be a solid leadoff hitter.† KJ, as fans are beginning to affectionately refer to him, seems poised to do both. In spring training KJ's batted .282 with 11 hits, 3 doubles, 2 homeruns and 5 RBIs in 39 at-bats.† Some see Prado's numbers (.366 AVG, 15 hits, 5 doubles and 7 RBIs in 41 at-bats) and wonder why†KJ has been touted as the starting 2B all spring.† While Prado certainly proved that he has the offensive and defensive skills to make the Major League roster, he†hasn't proved he can be a leadoff hitter and he lacks†the Major League at-bats KJ has.† In an interview on Talking Chop, GM John Schuerholz said, "I think Kelly Johnson "clearly" could be a leadoff hitter, Prado would be another story...."††As far as Major League at-bats,†KJ†saw 290 at-bats in 2005, Prado saw only 42 last year while filling in at 2B and 3B last season.† No stranger to the infield (he was drafted as a SS), KJ has recently been applauded by both Bobby Cox and Glenn Hubbard.† Of KJ's double play in the fifth inning of last Saturday's game,†Cox said, "I don't know if I've seen a faster [turn] since Glenn Hubbard," Cox said. "I'm not just saying that, either. He's come so far. ... He looks good."† Hubbard, a noted infielder in his day, worked with KJ during the off-season on his move from OF to 2B.† He's said that he's surprised that KJ has adapted so fast to his new defensive role.† Hubbard could only note two mistakes KJ has made this spring.† He said, ""He's not finished [learning] yet, but he's already solid. And his throwing from second base has been a real plus."† My prediction is that, by the All-Star break, KJ fever will sweep the Braves nation and there will no longer be any lamenting of the loss of Giles. So, here he is Atlanta:† batting leadoff and playing second base for your Atlanta Braves...Kelly Johnson!
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