The third base positional battle for the Atlanta Braves has been well documented through the 2013 spring training. Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson have been going stat for stat, hit to hit all spring training long. Last Friday, Coach Fredi Gonzalez announced that a decision was not made on who will be the everyday starter and instead they will go with platooning the two based on matchups and hell, maybe what Fredi wakes up thinking on any given day.
What we have witness during spring training was an offensive outburst from the two, Francisco and Johnson. The two may have in their minds that it’s them against the other or they could be pushing each other to be better. Right now, it’s hard to say the relationship between the two but the competition that we’ve seen so far has been great.
Let’s start with the elder first, Chris Johnson. Standing at 6’3” 220 Ib’s, Johnson has the more experience of the two with 348 games played in the major leagues. He was a 4th round selection in the 2006 amateur draft by the Houston Astros. On September 9, 2009 he made his debut with the Astros against none other then the Atlanta Braves. He continued at the third base position till years end in 2009 and was slated as the 2010 starter.
During the 2010 season, he batted 5th in looking back on an actually decent lineup with Michael Bourn, Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Johnson. Putting up his best line of his career .308/.337/.481 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI’s. After having a down year in 2011, Johnson was traded mid-2012 season to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Entering his prime seasons in 2012, Johnson had a pretty good statistical season. Then came over to Atlanta in the Justin Upton trade.
Now the 28-year-old will enter the season for the Braves in a platoon situation fighting for at-bats. Having played 18 games at first base in the minors and only six games in the majors, the Braves feel as though he can be a backup to Freddie Freeman at 1B, which gives Johnson some versatility to get on the field. With this versatility, I believe it will help him get at-bats but not many, as Freeman doesn’t take many days off. I see the Braves using Johnson at 3B, 1B as well as using him as a pinch hitter for the pitcher in the late innings of games.
** I think he’ll play around 70 games at third base, maybe around 10 at first base and then the rest pinch hitting