The Season That Was: Kelly Johnson

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Several Blue Jays had disappointing seasons, Kelly Johnson started off much the way we hoped he would, but it didn't last.

If I'm going to get to all the players that had a significant amount of playing time with the Blue Jays, I'm going to have to stop procrastinating, but then this one I didn't want to do.

Kelly was pretty good for the month he was with us in 2011, after we traded Aaron Hill and John McDonald to the Diamondbacks for him. He hit .270/.364/.417 in 33 games and it looked like he'd be a good pickup. He has had an up and down career. Since 2007, he has posted seasonal OPS+ of 116, 109, 82, 127, 93 and 84 last year. He had been a player that we'd been interested in for a few years, the good years show a potential for a very useful player.

Our preseason predictions for Kelly were hopelessly high. Mine was .265/.355/.520, with 22 home runs in 145 games. Yeah I missed by a little.


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2012 - Kelly Johnson 142 507 61 114 19 2 16 55 62 159 14 2 .225 .313 .365

Oh well.

Fangraphs has him at a 0.7 WAR, giving him a value of $3.2 million, a bit of a drop from his 2.2 WAR in 2011. His BABIP actually went up to .292 from .277 in 2011. The stand out number is the 159 strikeouts, but then he stuck out 163 times in 2011.

Comparing to last 2011, Kelly walked a little more 10.7%, from 9.8% and struck out a little more, 27.4% from 26.6%. He hit about the same number of line drives, 21.0% from 20.4%, more ground balls, 45.2% from 39.3% and fewer fly balls, 33.7% from 40.3%. He popped up a bunch more, 9.4% from 4.6%. About the same number of fly balls went out of the park as last year, 13.7% from 13.8%.

A lefty bat, Kelly hit right-handers(.234/.319/.386) much better than lefties (.201/.297/.309).

He hit better at home (.236/.313/.415) than on the road (.213/.314/.313).

Johnson hit a little better with RISP .243/.331/.393.

Kelly hit in every spot in the order, expect for 3rd. He hit far better batting second than anywhere else, .232/.365/.411. but that's likely because that's were he was at the start of the season and he started off ok, but went downhill from there.

By month Kelly hit:

April: .235/.361/.395

May: .273/.342/.465

June: .227/.300/.289

July: .203/.294/.351

August: .189/.270/.333

September: .212/.307/.348

The first couple of months were pretty good, but after that.....

Johnson's favorite team to face was the Texas Rangers, going .250/.375/.600 against them. He also hit the Angels, .333/..448/.500, and the Indians, .304/.467/.478, very well. Basically a 3 way tie. His least favorite? He hit .100/.100/.100 in 3 games against the Brewers. Among the AL teams, he hit worst against the Red Sox, .118/.237/.137 in 16 games.

His longest hitting streak was 7 games back in early May. Longest on base streak was 25 games. His longest hitless streak was 4.

I thought Kelly's defense was ok, I thought he turned the double play well. He made 11 errors and had a .983 fielding average, for whatever that is worth. Fangraphs had him at a -8.1 UZR/150, which would be at the bottom of the league for AL second basemen. I didn't think he was all that bad, but maybe. His career UZR/150 at second base is -1.9. I guess serviceable might be the best way to describe his defense. If he was hitting, you'd be ok with it.

I'm pretty sure that Johnson has to be better next year. I think he played through injuries that he shouldn't have, but with all the other injuries we had and the lack of a decent replacement on the bench, I'm sure there was an urge to suck it up and play through it all. As much as we admire people for playing through injuries, I don't think it is a good idea in the MLB. When you have games basically every day it is tough to recover. Maybe there is another complaint we can lay at John Farrell's door. The manager should be able to tell when a player isn't helping the team win.

Kelly cost himself a lot of money with his poor year. I'm doubtful the Jays will be bringing him back, but maybe his cost will gone down enough that they figure it is worth a shot to see if he can do some better, and it not, there is Mike Aviles.

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