The New York Yankees swooped in and signed versatile left-handed hitter Kelly Johnson in the off season to a one-year, $2.4 million pact. At the time the deal was made, I’ll admit, I thought it was a steal for the Bronx Bombers. He could play multiple positions, had been above-average offensively throughout his career, and was just three years removed from a 5.4 fWAR season. I believed he was the perfect fit for Boston, and was disappointed they failed to pursue him. Johnson would have provided them with much-needed outfield depth, a steady stick, and insurance for the inconsistent Will Middlebrooks.
But, alas, like I said, he wound up with the Evil Empire instead, and surely would pay dividends for the club. Well, baseball is an unpredictable game, and Johnson with his .219 batting average and 88 wRC+ has been nothing but a miserable failure. To some Yankees fans he’s been the equivalent of Stephen Drew to Red Sox fans — so, yeah, that bad.
Despite my frustrations before the season began, as fate would have it, Kelly Johnson would play in Boston in 2014 after all. Not necessarily the role I had envisioned coming into the year, but he’ll still be able to platoon with Middlebrooks, who’s expected to come off the disabled list tomorrow, at third base.
Few suggest a change of scenery may do him some good, and while that might be true to an extent, what really will make a difference for Johnson is his statistics deviating towards his career totals. For example, his .260 BABIP is way off from his career .303 BABIP, and that’ll likely inch closer to his career-mark in the second-half, meaning more balls he puts in play result in a hit instead of an out.
Watching Johnson struggle on both sides of the ball this season makes me hesitant to say he’s the player I originally thought he was. However, I truly believe in his ability and think he could have an impact with Boston.
Nevertheless, he can’t be worse than Stephen Drew was, and for that, I happily say, welcome to Boston, Kelly Johnson!