Sunday, February 24, 2008

We come to bury Reed, not to praise him

Okay, maybe it's a little cheap to spit on the casket of Reed Johnson's career with the Blue Jays before they even lower it into the ground. Still, with the news of Shannon Stewart's signing, you can't help but dig a little deeper into Johnson's career numbers and find him wanting.

Last year, just by eyeballing through the cathode ray tube, we saw Johnson standing further back from the plate and using a longer bat. (He can deny it, but we'd like to think that our seat six feet away from our 27" Toshiba makes us the authority.) We saw Johnson unable to get to pitches on either the outside or inside corners, and we rarely saw him hit anything with a great deal of authority that wasn't a mistake pitch from a bad pitcher.

Plus, he runs like a girl.

The first half of Reed Johnson's 2006 season was extraordinary, if not extraordinarily flukey. His batting average on balls in play in those first 68 games was an absurdly high .409, which likely means that Reed got more than his fair share of seeing-eye squibbers. In the second half of that season, his BAbip dropped more than 80 points, and it has continued to decline in every half-season since.

Granted, he was hurt last year. (Where have we heard that before?) Still, we respect the fact that the Blue Jays' front office is at least taking out some sort of insurance against a further decline.

And as far as the other half of the game goes, Reed has engendered an awful lot of good will for himself by laying out for catches, and for generally being "gritty", "scrappy" and "full of heart". (Cripes, did we even need to bring in Eckstein? We already had a short white guy!)

Don't fret for Reed, though. This season was likely to be his last with the Jays anyways, with Adam Lind and (eventually) Travis Snider coming up quickly from behind him. He managed to cash in on those 12 weeks worth of excellent fortune, and will find a National League team to take him on as a supersub next year, if not sooner.


stoeten said...

Reed played 7 games pre-injury and 72 post last year. His numbers against LHP were still 325/381/532.

A 913 OPS isn't so bad...

Tao of Stieb said...

But that's in 77's a pretty small sample. He drove in six runs against lefties.

The bigger issue is versus righties, where Johnson struck out once ever 4.7 plate appearances while managing to not hit a homer and driving in just 8. (Stewart's rate was one K every 10 PAs.)

The Southpaw said...

Reed may or may not be the question, but Stew is most definitely NOT the answer.


Andrew said...

I put more confidence in a Stewart/Stairs platoon than a Johnson/Stairs platoon. Defense is key but Matt will be getting more atbats so I'm not certain the gains add up.

Let's see how our new hitting coach does with Reed before we close the lid too. A more scrappy approach instead of going for power would atleast pump his stats and trade value.

Mop Up Duty said...

I hope this cuts and pastes out alright: Below is Reed's BABIP+HR for 2004, 2005, 2006. AB is the first number, following by hits and finally BABIP+HR

Reed Johnson 2004 439 145 0.330296
Reed Johnson 2005 316 107 0.338608
Reed Johnson 2006 380 147 0.38684

This was a cut and paste from a 2006 article but as you can see his BABIP+HR went way over his previous levels in 2006. With his history in the majors and minors this 2006 was out of the norm. Reed's about a .725 - .750 OPS type player. Not bad, although not good enough to start in a corner outfield spot in the AL.