Reed Johnson

Reed Johnson Career Batting Splits – Baseball-Reference.com.

Righthanded utility outfielder, 35 years old but playing some of the best ball of his career. Johnson is comparable in some ways to Matt Diaz, only he got a fuller and earlier chance than Matt; the question, I suppose, is if this was luck or quality. With Diaz in clear decline, Johnson should make a capable replacement; having both on the roster would be redundant even if Diaz was playing well. (Or at all, he hasn’t played in a couple of weeks.)

Johnson has more secondary skills than Diaz, and is a career .284/.342/.414 hitter. The Jays took him in the seventeenth round out of Cal State-Fullerton in 1999. He hit well in the minors, particularly on the on-base side (career minor league OBP of .381) and was more or less the regular right fielder for the major league club by early in 2003. He hit well enough to build on that year, but played poorly the next two seasons. In 2006, at the age of 29, Johnson had his best year, hitting .319/.390/.479 (and leading the league with 21 HBP) but he followed this with a terrible 2007 (.236/.305/.320) and the Jays released him.

Johnson spent a couple of mediocre years with the Cubs and one with the Dodgers, and seemed to be playing out the string. But last season, back with the Cubs, he hit .309/.348/.467, and this year .302/.355/.444. In both cases, this is in limited playing time, and while some of his success is luck, some of it is probably due to having the platoon advantage more often.

Runs pretty well, and can still play centerfield, or at least stand in centerfield wearing a glove. The Braves evidently prefer Jason Heyward as Michael Bourn‘s backup.

110 thoughts on “Reed Johnson”

  1. Should I be relieved that my defense of the Quilvio Veras and J.D. Drew trades got JC’d?

  2. Not sure the Braves actually think Heyward is the better CF. It could be that they’re playing him there a bit to get a better idea about their 2013 options.

  3. I liked that Fredi moved JHey over to CF instead of putting Johnson there. Now I’d like to see him start Johnson in LF. Bourn and Prado have been flagging of late (hey, there’s another reason to like the trade!).

  4. #3 – I thought it was a good deal at the time and still thought it was a good trade when Adam Wainwright became Adam Wainwright. Wainwright was a top pitching prospect in the Braves system but he had somewhat fallen out of favor. Drew was coming off of injury I believe. The Cards got an Ace and we got 1 season of outstanding play from Drew, maybe his best season ever. Do we make the playoffs that year without JD Drew?

    Using the total outcome method of evaluating a trade, do the Braves ‘lose’ this one?

  5. @8

    I don’t think we make the playoffs without him. We also felt good about reupping him.

    I don’t think Wainwright is going ot the HOF or anything

  6. I am sorry but I just don’t agree with evaluating trades long after the trade occurred. Wren evaluated the current team and filled two holes. The cost is a physically gifted pitcher that hasn’t proven that he is MLB quality. It’s a good deal for the Braves and the Cubs right now. Especially if you’re the Braves and you have 3 physically gifted pitchers and you trade the Cubs the injured one. For the Cubs it’s a good trade because they get some potential back into their system and their cost is a couple of journeyman players having good seasons. Maybe I’m over simplifying but IMHO the only way you evaluate a trade is in the context of team goals at the time of the trade.

  7. @11 I don’t disagree, but it doesn’t quite answer all the questions you want answered. How do you know you’ve achieved your goal unless you have some sense of the probability that Vizcaino becomes something. Does it make a difference in evaluating the trade whether you think Vizcaino has a 2 percent chance of being a good reliever or a 20 percent chance of being a number two starter? Or whatever?

    You can justify literally any trade by saying “Well, management saw something that suggested that player A isn’t as good as everyone thinks or that Player B has hidden values that only we think we can unlock.” But you have to be able to evaluate whether or not that judgment is justified. And you can only do that with a largish dataset, and only in retrospect.

    No one EVER makes a trade where they think they aren’t paying a price that’s worth paying… on both sides. So unless you think that all trades benefit both sides (and that’s not an entirely stupid way to think, but it certainly cuts off a lot of arguments) then there’s still room to assess judgment.

  8. Lineup:

    1. Bourn CF
    2. Johnson LF
    3. Heyward RF
    4. Jones 3B
    5. Freeman 1B
    6. McCann C
    7. Uggla 2B
    8. Janish SS
    9. Minor P

    When’s the last time we had all three OF in the top three holes in the lineup? Or am I being a doofus thinking that’s something new?

  9. Ever since Heyward moved to number three it’s been Bourn, Prado, Heyward hasn’t it?

  10. @13 I love questions like that because it allows me to use the retrosheet database. The last time the Braves had outfielders in the first three slots in the batting order was August 13, 1997. Kenny Lofton led off in center, Michael Tucker batted second in right, and Ryan Klesko hit third in left.

    The Atlanta Braves have led off with the outfield 155 times since coming to Atlanta in 1966.

  11. Considering it took him Season 5 post-trade to become ADAM WAINWRIGHT!, and only stayed that way for 3 years how is it even a question that the Drew trade was a success?

  12. Everyone has been raving about Heyward, rightly so but Freeman is putting up a pretty good year too. Without the speed.

  13. Isn’t it possible that Keith Law does take marginal win values into account, but just doesn’t like the Braves trade because he REALLY likes Vizcaino? I don’t doubt that he often overvalues prospects in trade deadline scenarios, but folks here seem to be taking it as a given that he always follows a hard and fast (and simplistic) rule in evaluating such trades. It could just be that he doesn’t like this trade. And that’s okay too. It’s rare that there is a universal consensus on any deal; there’s no need to explain away a dissenter’s viewpoint as ideological, irrational, or anything else.

  14. I think perhaps, Law like many, doesn’t care for the merely competent guys like Johnson and Reed that every team has a need for. You hear the phrase “freely available” talent a lot, as if teams can magically fill their bench and #5 starter with somebody good easily. And yet, as Braves fans know all too well, competent organizational depth can be awful hard to come by. Vizcaino is the kinda guy you’d love to keep – but he isn’t in a position to help today, and may never be. The Braves desperately needed RH bench/OF depth and starting P depth. Neither guy is top shelf, but quite cromulent. And apparently GMs have figured out, even if analysts haven’t completely, that being able to “not suck” has a fair bit of value.

  15. @12 – I don’t know of course but I just get this feeling that in front offices its as simple as ‘Hey the Cubs will take our injured prospect for a lefty having a decent year and a quality reserve.’ and ‘Wow, the Braves will trade us Adroydis Vizcaino whom Keith Law just loves for old Reed and lucky Maholm!’ Make it so!
    I’m probably wrong of course. I’m sure that Wren asked someone ‘So, what is the probabilty that Vizcaino becomes the next Pedro Martinez? Take a look at the long range models of every trade we’ve made involving a pitcher and have the answer to me by tomorrow. I’m just kidding. It seems that only the internet blogosphere does that.

  16. @13, Not to be flip, but haven’t we had Bourn/Prado Heyward at the top of the lineup for a while now?

  17. Well, I don’t what major league clubs are hiring all these data analysts to do, but I’ll bet probabilitic player futures are one of them. And the lesson of Moneyball is that cash-constrained teams can at times substitute brains for gut feeling profitably.

    Theo Epstein hired Bill James to do stuff, so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Cubs don’t have a model of the probability that a pitcher recovers from TJ surgery and how long it takes and how much the subsequent performance depends on the pre-surgery performance.

  18. @22

    I don’t take it as a given — after years of observation, I believe it may be the case. I’ve also heard him give what I believe is short shrift to the Braves organization.

  19. @27

    Yeah, I have read things by him that were slighted against the Braves. I think he thinks he is smarter than everyone and his way is the only way. The Braves run things about the polar opposite of how he would and are successful.

    Keith Law is a tool.

  20. @26, of course they take those guys into account, and there is no doubt they have significant influence on many decisions. A model for likely post TJ outcomes of significant statistical confidence would be really hard to create I would think. There aren’t nearly enough data points available to create something without a huge margin of error, and even those data points would be exceptionally hard to quantify in terms of whether their post surgery failure or success was directly attributable solely to the procedure.

  21. I think we’re all worried about Madoffing ourselves. F’rinstance, when Stilladouche moved on without even a goodbye kiss (or a pennant), it felt like we had run out of resources to compete the following year.

    But, really, isn’t the job of a GM to put his team in position to make the playoffs THIS year EVERY year? (Unless it’s a true reclamation project like the Cubs, but there’s not really very many teams like that.)

    So, it can feel like a Ponzi scheme all the time (especially if you’re a mid-market or lower club) and the hand-to-mouth nature of it all seems somehow unwise.

    But that’s kinda the job description – Win Now (and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow).

    That’s why I like this trade. Our chances of winning this year are better than they were before the trade.

    Watching Andrus come through in the clutch last night brought it all back. But I’m pretty sure Simmons is going to make me glad Elvis left the building.

    This Wren fella is growing on me. DLowe was a huge mistake, but he hasn’t made many since.

  22. Raining like crazy already and more coming in.

    5 SEC teams in the top 10, and 7 in the top 25. Anybody think that maybe this college football playoff thingy just might lead to more rather than less SEC dominance, at least in the short term? Almost every year there is one SEC team in the top 4, and often there are 2 or more. I can easily see this becoming subject to the law of unintended consequences very quickly.

  23. #25: As I said in #16, I’ve been in Hungary all summer. Haven’t watched a game that whole time, only skim the boxscores and rarely have time to post here or absorb what’s going on. Last time I was fully engaged, Heyward was still batting 7th.

  24. Jc and I tweeted back and forth on this issue last week. The question isn’t whether a TJ model has a lot of variance. It’s whether it has less variance (and a very different mean) than just making stuff up. Surely the data could tell you something you didn’t know before.

  25. #33
    National Semi-Finals: LSU vs. Georgia & Alabama vs. South Carolina?

    It won’t be perfect, of course, but it could make for some compelling storylines to see something like the SEC champ, the Big 10 champ, the Pac 10 champ & Boise or Oklahoma, say, in a Final-4 mini-tournament.

  26. @33 I definitely think that’s a risk. There will always be a few very good teams that go undefeated or lose one game in their weaker conferences, but the Ohio State, Oklahoma’s and USC’s of the world don’t have nearly as much sway as they did even just 5 or 6 years ago. What happened to Auburn in 2004 would never happen in these new times.

  27. @38 Wouldn’t taking the victor from each conference be an even worse solution than what we have now? You could have dramatically weaker teams getting in.

  28. @42, since the implied rationale is to give the TCUs and Boises a seat at the table, I can’t imagine a conference champ getting given an automatic seat in any playoff system. if they’d put Wisconsin in a 4 way last year, there would have been a riot, and rightfully so.

  29. #42
    I’m just talking about storylines, assuming that those schools “deserve” to be in the top 4.

    We’re still going to have controversy no matter how this “playoff” goes.

    Like, what if Oregon & USC destroy every team they play, except for the game they play against each other? Does it mean they were really that good & both deserve to be in the Final 4? Or does it mean that the competition was slack?

    Although I’d prefer 8 teams in the playoff (or 6, if you want to give the top 2 byes), the idea of winning at least 2 games for a “title” is something I find more appealing.

  30. I think having a playoff but it’s just 4 teams is ridiculous. Chop a few games off the schedule and make it a bigger pool.

  31. Reed can sub for Chipper twice a week and every so often for an outfielder and for FF or DU with Prado in IF?
    Is that reasonable?

  32. Maybe I’m nitpicking here,{or just old!} but calling Francisco the “Roadrunner” is offensive to me given that Ralph Garr once had that distinction!

  33. Despite Joe’s proclamations, Uggla won’t be back until he hits three balls to right center.

  34. Just checked Yahoo and it says that the Lisp is in for Minor? What happened? (I can’t get to a TV or decent internet connection to find out for myself just now).

  35. I’m guessing Medlen will get his normal rest, but can Minor come back quicker? For a series where the Braves have had a lot of big leads, it’s been pretty rough on the pen.

  36. What a fitting end to Lowe’s career. We have to thank the Indians for the $5M. No clue what they saw in last year’s Lowe which made them think it’s even worth a chance.

  37. Joe – Marlins have really had Washingtons number this year.

    Chip – Yes, they are 5-4 against them so far. Swept them earlier this year.

    Good job guys.

  38. Is that 3 straight nights of Gearrin or only two? Can’t remember. Regardless, he’s showing some promise- maybe he’ll turn out to be the bullpen acquisition the Braves didn’t make.

  39. That was three straight for Gearrin.

    How many of those four did the Marlins pitch Dan Jennings in?

  40. Id love to be wrong on Gearrin. He’s looked good and I dont remember seeing 94mph from him ever before.

  41. Dempster gave up 8 in 4 2/3 tonight.

    Would love to see him suck for the rest of the season.

  42. A whole bunch of teams, including the Braves, had their Facebook page hacked. http://deadspin.com/5931360

    The fake update from the Braves page was:

    “We want to remind female fans that there is a chance of their panties getting wet tonight as Chipper Jones is back in the lineup. #ThisIsWhyWeChop”

    I LOLed, anyway.

  43. Closer to the division leader (2.5 GB Wash) than we are to the one club that won’t make the post-season (4 games ahead of STL).

    As we know from last year, we’re not exactly at the finish line, but we’re pretty good for Aug. 3, right?

    BTW, thanks NY Mets, for putting a 3/4 whoopin’ on the SF Melkies.

    Hopefully, we’ll continue to play well at home vs. the worst club in the NL.

  44. From AJC’s game recap:

    ““It’s unbelievable,” Gonzalez said of the bullpen. “They’re running on fumes right now. We need to get a couple starters to go (deep) and Mother Nature to cooperate a little bit. Tip your hat off to those guys because they did a terrific job holding the Marlins team in check when we needed them to.””

    Finally Fredi asks us to tip our hats to our own guys! With the added level of tipping it OFF!

    I’m telling you, he’s really raising his esteem with me this year.

  45. So Jayron Kearse (nephew of the former Gator) has committed to Miami, Auburn and Clemson.

    And there’s six months to go before Signing Day.

  46. RE: the Drew/Marerro for Wainwright trade; that was a good deal. Wainwright was floundering with bad mechanics in the minors, and the Braves needed a bat to replace Gary Sheffield. They went and got one. The Cards rebuilt Wainwright’s mechanics (after a year lost to injury.) Good for the Cards. Good for the Braves for competing at the ML level. The point is not to collect the shiniest set of prospects in baseball year after year.

    RE: Keith Law – most prospect guys overvalue prospects and undervalue moderately useful big league parts like Reed Johnson. Law sometimes takes that to an extreme, but he doesn’t have the behavior copyrighted by any means. Keith Law probably thinks Randall Delgado could provide the same production for the Braves than they’ll get down the stretch from Paul Maholm. He would be wrong in that assumption, but that’s his bias. He thinks “league average” is the same as “replacement level” and that’s just false.

    RE: Chipper/Prado/Johnson/Francisco as a rotation; I think you roll that as the opposing pitcher dictates, but Prado seems to like not shuttling back and forth between positions, and Prado himself could use a few days off down the stretch. I’d rather see Johnson rotate through the OF, giving the starters a day off per week, and keep Francisco in the rotation as Chipper’s backup (at least as long as Francisco is hitting.)

  47. @83 If you’re saying STL won’t make the postseason because they’re 4 games behind right now… yeah, I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion just yet, especially after how things ended last year. Also, STL has the best run differential in baseball and I am betting that they will go on a pretty good run at some point before the season ends. As a matter of fact, I would be surprised if they didn’t make the playoffs (most likely at the expense of PIT).

  48. @87-

    I think Delgado could provide the same level of pitching as Maholm down the stretch. People are overvalueing his performance thus far this year while ignoring the consistent mediocrity he’s shown throughout his career. Similarly, I think Delgado has pitched better than his results have shown thus far, and like most young pitchers, I expect him to improve with experience.

    Here’s how I rationalize the trade (which I can only do by assuming the team has substantially better information than me, which is no doubt true, and is acting intelligently, and based on his performance thus far, Wren’s probably earned that deference):

    The Braves think Vizcaino is a bullpen guy 100%. There’s no way he could succeed in a major league rotation. They also think Delgado is tipping his pitches and therefore won’t succeed in the majors this year without a bit of time spent reworking things so that he won’t tip his pitches. Basically, he’s unavailable except in emergency situations. Therefore, the Braves need another guy to step in for Hanson short term (and possibly long). Also, there’s the concern that riding Delgado would be putting too many innings on a young arm, so better to bring him along incrementally.

    Short of all that, I don’t see any way this makes sense. I mean, it’s basically a move for starting rotation depth, since Maholm plus a super-useful bench guy. You don’t give up elite starting pitching prospects for a #4 starter and the short half of a platoon.

  49. STL is also very hurt right now. No Carpenter for the season and Furcal, Molina, and Berkman are all injured right now.

  50. So, Cliff Lee’s going through waivers. Will be available in a trade eventually when he clears. If you can get the Phils to eat contract to the point where he’s making $15 mil per (Derek Lowe’s contract) would you trade Tommy Hanson for Lee?

  51. How the heck is Vizcaino still an “elite prospect” when he’s had his arm surgically repaired, and not thrown a pitch in anger since?

  52. @87 – Being at least basically intelligent, I’m pretty sure Keith Law gets the difference between league average and replacement level. It’s possible to disagree with your assessment of a situation without being a moron.

    The equation isn’t simplistically “Delgado(ROS)=Maholm(ROS)” so don’t make the trade, it’s “Delgado(ROS)+Vizcaino(value over next 4 years minus salary)+Jaye Chapman(value over next 6 years minus salary)>Maholm(ROS+value over next year minus salary)+Johnson(ROS)+(value of chance that Maholm+Johnson make the difference in making the playoffs this year or not), so don’t make the trade. Everyone is evaluating it in exactly this same framework, just assigning different value to the variables.

    I see a team that was already in a playoff spot at the time, a starter in Delgado that I expect to be at least around league average, and a starter in Maholm that I expect to be around league average as well (based on his career, not his “hot hand” in which I’m a firm disbeliever as are many intelligent people), and so I view Johnson as carrying most of the weight of the (value of chance that Maholm+Johnson make the difference in making the playoffs this year or not) variable.

    Our record was 57-44 before the trade, which is 91-win pace. Say the combined effect of Johnson and Maholm is 2 wins over the rest of the season (that’s generous, in my opinion) so now we’re at 93 win pace. This (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/new-wild-cards-and-the-playoff-probability-curve/) article shows wins 92 and 93 being worth a combined 14% extra chance of making the divisional series, or about an extra 6% chance of making the playoffs at all (including the WC game). This (http://bizofbaseball.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3614:mlb-postseason-clubs-make-extra–but-how-much-depends&catid=26:editorials&Itemid=39) article suggests that on average you can expect like $1.5 million in revenue from each home playoff game, so a full World Series run could be from $7.5mill-$18mill. So the maximum marginal utility of Maholm and Johnson would be .14*18mill, or $2.52 million. That’s if things went exceedingly well in the postseason, and every series went the distance with us having home field every time.

    Personally I don’t think it requires being an unrealistic prospect hawk to think that Vizcaino + Chapman would be worth more than that over their careers with the Braves. That’s not a big deal if you’re a team without crippling TV contracts and lackluster attendance, but unfortunately the Braves have both of those things.

  53. The Cardinals are the Yankees of the NL. They aren’t dead until three days after the season is over.

    @91

    Most players with a contract like his go on waivers. I would imagine they would want more than Hanson. They will be able to find a better deal for him in the winter

  54. Short of all that, I don’t see any way this makes sense. I mean, it’s basically a move for starting rotation depth, since Maholm plus a super-useful bench guy. You don’t give up elite starting pitching prospects for a #4 starter and the short half of a platoon.

    1. Vizcaino as an “elite starting pitching prospect” is a 2010 notion (a point which you’ve stipulated but not agreed to I think.)

    2. Randall Delgado is not getting guys out efficiently at the ML level. Whatever the reason for that, it is the case. Maholm has shown the ability to get guys out at the ML level.

    3. You need at least three starters you can trust to get you through six innings with a chance to win. The Braves had Hudson, then however much you trust Sheets and Minor to continue their current pace. Maholm fills a need.

    4. A short half of a #4 is something a WS contender needs.

    5. When you have five or six guys with the same projectability as Vizcaino in your system you do that deal every time.

  55. @94
    Sam doesn’t need anybody’s help defending his points, but I don’t see where he called Law a moron. At least not in that comment.

    If you buy into the concept that those two ballplayers could create 2 more wins this season, then how could you not like the trade?
    What would 2 more wins have meant for us last season?

    I’ll take 2 guys working to make something out of what might be their last chance at a pennant. They have no postseason stats! I understand that motivation a lot better than I understand “upside.”

    In addition, I also understand the value of two additional capable players in a hot month when the Braves have only two scheduled days off.

    I’m glad about the trade. Go Braves!

  56. What would you be willing to add to Hanson in order to bring back Lee @ $15m per?

    Law’s super smart, but he’s blinded by his love of prospects IMHO. And pitching prospects in particular… well. TINSTAAPP.

    An additional 2 wins in 2012 is the difference between playing a 1-game elimination round against the other NL WC, or sitting back and watching the Nationals burn Stephen Strasburg in that play-in game.

  57. No, STL is just taking up the spot in the standings that doesn’t get them into the post-season.

    They don’t look scary, but I’d never count ’em out.

  58. @97 – “He thinks “league average” is the same as “replacement level” and that’s just false.”

    This is implicitly calling Law either moronic or ignorant. Ignorance suffers from a lack of a stand-alone noun describing a person afflicted by it, so I went with “moron.”

  59. @94,

    I’m no statistician but it seems to me that increasing the chances of making the divisional series by 14% or the playoffs at all by 6% is pretty significant, especially given what happened last year. The difference between 91 and 93 wins could well be significant, especially if it helps avoid the play-in game. The implicaton of your analysis, to me, seems to be that teams (or at least the Braves)should not make any move unless they can obtain a huge marginal advantage, which, as I interpret it, would occur only if they can fleece the other team.

  60. @100 PeteOrr

    If we get into a discussion of semantics or even grammar, I’ll be quickly outgunned.

    But Sam’s assertion, “He thinks “league average” is the same as “replacement level” and that’s just false.” is a judgement in my book, and an opinion, at worst.
    And it made me think a lot this morning about what those terms meant, and what Sam meant by comaparing them.
    In doing so, I realized I liked the trade and had something new to root for.

    Darn you, Sam, for making me think about baseball!
    I hope it won’t happen again!

  61. 98—Jurrjens!

    Would Hanson even make it to the Phillies if he were subjected to the waiver process, though?

  62. Saying this is a matter of Maholm in, Delgado out is too simplistic. That’s how it stands at the moment, but with two months left in the season in a rotation where Tim Hudson is the only reliable quantity…

    There’s also the effect that having a non-scrub fourth OF might have on Bourn, Prado, and Heyward, all of whom have been playing practically every day. Bourn and Prado seem to have been wearing down in the dog days, and Johnson could have a cascading impact on the production of the other OFs going forward.

  63. @102 – Maholm is league average over the last two years. Delgado is league average over the last two years/his career. If you like hot hands, then yes, Maholm is your guy. If you don’t care for hot hands, then they’re equal. If you expect an old guy to get worse and young guy to get better, then Delgado is your guy. These are all reasonable stances to take.

  64. I think sansho hit the nail on the head. There’s a lot of performance/injury uncertainty in this rotation, and Maholm is insurance against that. We may well see Delgado again, but it’ll be because Sheets or Hanson are on the shelf.

  65. I sure hope we’re able to add another bullpen arm in August, though. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we’ll need Deglado and Medlen in the rotation at some point down the stretch.

  66. Maholm is league average over the last two years. Delgado is league average over the last two years/his career.

    Paul Maholm, ERA+ (last five years): 113, 94, 79, 100, 107
    Randall Delgado, ERA+ (2011-12): 138*, 92

    *7 games

    If the question is who projects better into 2016, probably Delgado. But Maholm gives you a better projection for the next two months. (And while it makes sense to discount “hot hands” when you’re doing full season projections and such, the idea of not accounting for who is pitching or hitting well right now is as alien to managing an in-season roster as any idea I can imagine.)

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