The Tao has a good post up about Reed Johnson and his, let's be kind, seemingly diminishing utility to the Blue Jays and how it ties in with signing of Shannon Stewart as outfield insurance.
It's as good a time as any to 'fess up to maybe getting the numbers upside-down and backwards with Johnson last summer. The Tao's argument is that Johnson's 2006 season, when he was a poor man's Craig Biggio, hitting .319 with an .869 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS), might have been a fluke. Johnson's batting average on balls in play (BAbip) in '06 was a difficult-to-sustain .366.
Typically, the major league average for BAbip is .290-.300; it's difficult to stray too far from either side of the median unless you're a superstar. Johnson was getting that "one more dying quail a week" that Crash Davis talked about in Bull Durham.
Last season Johnson had the hernia and crashed all the way to .236 with a .625 OPS, barely even better than McGlovin. In August, one T.O. baseball writer started mewling about how the Jays were giving short shrift to Johnson's gift for "the art of small ball." The response then was that he didn't rate such a passionate please. It was a write-off season and he was injured. However, the BAbip was still good (.336 at that writing), so the belief was Johnson be fine once he calmed down at the plate and and got better control of the strike zone (just check how his walk and strikeout rates changed from '06 to '07).
It turns out that was off. His BAbip ended up at .290, which is slightly below the norm but not as far as he was above it in 2006. That means what you saw last summer, albeit with the injury and the pressure to make up for lost time with a couple of swings, might have been closer to the real Reed Johnson.
(Another good companion to this would be to examine the longevity of guys who get hit by pitches like Johnson does. Eventually, you gotta get gun-shy, right?)
We come to bury Reed, not to praise him (The Tao of Stieb)
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