Coming into the 2013 baseball season, many Braves‘ fans were worried about the type of production that would come from the third base position after the retirement of Chipper Jones. Since the departure of Martin Prado, many of those worries have turned into legit concerns. But it’s time for the Braves’ faithful to put their hearts at ease, as I believe that third base will be in great hands with Chris Johnson manning the corner.
The Braves acquired Chris Johnson in the trade for Justin Upton, an acquisition that has gone somewhat under the radar. However, Chris Johnson is a name that everyone around Braves Nation will soon know and love.
Johnson came into the league at the end of 2009 with the Houston Astros, but wouldn’t make his impact felt until his first full MLB season in 2010. During his rookie season, he put up a .308 average with 11 HR, 52 RBI, and a .818 OPS. His stats would take a hit during his sophomore season with the Astros, but he would rebound in the first half of 2012, as he accumulated a .279 average while adding 8 HR and 41 RBI. After 92 games with the Astros, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he hammered out 7 more HR and 35 RBI in only 44 games.
So why should Braves’ fans feel pretty good about the acquisition of Chris Johnson? Let’s compare the full 2012 stats of Chris Johnson, Chipper Jones, and Martin Prado.
- Chris Johnson - .281 AVG., 15 HR, 76 RBI
- Chipper Jones – .287 AVG., 14 HR, 62 RBI
- Martin Prado – .301 AVG., 10 HR, 70 RBI
Chris Johnson’s stats from a season ago are nearly identical to that of Chipper Jones and Martin Prado. A matter of fact, he amassed more HR and RBI than both Jones and Prado, with Prado edging him out in batting average.
What does that mean for the Braves going forward? It means that Braves’ fan shouldn’t expect much of a drop-off – if any – from their new third baseman. Johnson has more power and run producing ability than Chipper did at the end of his career, and more than Prado has had during any point in his career. With the way Johnson ended his 2012 campaign, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him reach 20 HR and surpass 80 RBI in 2013.
Johnson will have to compete with Juan Francisco in the Spring for the full-time job, and it could very well develop into a platoon at third base. However, I believe that Johnson will come out of Spring Training penciled in as the starting third baseman. If he is, I don’t believe Braves’ fans will have much to worry about. A matter of fact, I think the Braves might have just found themselves a diamond in the rough with Chris Johnson.