The Atlanta Braves are now 51 games into the 162 game season and lots of scenarios have changed since the 2013 opening day. One thing that hasn’t seemed to change has been the platoon situation the Braves have at third base. This leads to the question of “Why Not”??
As you remember, the trade that brought Justin Upton to the Braves in January was the same one that included 28-year-old Chris Johnson to Atlanta. Before that trade with the Arizona Diamondback was official, Braves fans knew that their future Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones retired. We also were told (by experts) that if everything stayed the same on the roster, Martin Prado would split time at third base with 25-year-old Juan Francisco. But then the trade happened and the Braves traded away Prado and received Johnson.
So the 2013 Spring Training came and went and both Johnson and Francisco played terrific baseball. This led to Gonzalez stating that the Braves will head into the season platooning the third base position. Ok, well that’s great…another example of Fredi not being able to make a tough decision but now we are two months into the season and one of these guys is noticeably out performing the other!!
Chris Johnson has been on a tear since his opening day two hit start. Through May 28th, Johnson is hitting with a line of .346/.380/.492 compared to a line of .248/.295/.410 for Francisco. Johnson is hitting .300 against RHP and .429 vs LHP. Francisco is batting .264 against RHP and .133 vs LHP. Chris has 130 at bats, with 45 hits, 10 doubles, three home runs, 17 runs and 14 RBI’s. Juan on the other hand has 105 at bats, with 26 hits, two doubles, five home runs, 10 runs and 16 RBI’s. Also in those 105 at bats, Francisco has struck out 42 times!!
Yes, Juan has tagged five home runs but Chris’ batting average and on base percentage would be a clear cut of me if I was filling out a major league starting lineup. Also, out of the 38 games that Johnson has appeared in, the Braves have only lost 10 that he’s started at third base.
Now if your thinking I’ve jumped on the Chris Johnson band wagon and not a fan of Francisco, I would hesitate to say so. In my mind Juan is a solid MLB third baseman and has played well early this season to play on some teams but what Johnson has done on the field, I can’t help but to say he needs to be a regular on the Atlanta Braves!
How do you readers feel about this situation? And could a trade be brewing in the head of Frank Wren to send one of these guys else where for a relief pitcher??