Aug 25, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Elliot Johnson (30) celebrates with teammates after scoring on a sacrifice fly hit by catcher Gerald Laird (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. Atlanta defeated St. Louis 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Braves' Elliot Johnson Should Stay At 2B

This is purely an opinion piece fans.  I realize how the politics and business of professional baseball works.  I know that when you have a player you are paying big $ to, regardless of whether they deserve it or not, most teams feel obligated to not only pay him, but play him as well.  I also know that some players are fan favorites, although often that boggles my mind as well.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, that little vague intro is about Dan Uggla.  Our own Jeff Schafer posted a piece this morning talking about how Dan Uggla claims to be 100% ready to go after a two game minor league stint at Gwinnett.  Okay, let’s think about the math for a second.  You take a small hiatus to have Lasik surgery, which originally was planned for the off-season but hurried up because you couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a bazooka, then you have a 2 game stint in the minors where you go 2 for 7 with a homer (not bad, granted), and then suddenly you announce you’re fully ready to go!?

Will anyone excuse me for being a tad skeptical?  Look, please don’t sit down and start composing your hate mail just yet!  I support all Braves players, love them all, and want ALL of them to succeed.  If Dan is put right back in the lineup tonight, playing 2B, and starts a tear that pushes fully into October, there isn’t a person on the planet that will be any happier than I will be.  I just have absolutely no data, numbers, stats, or gut feeling to back up any hope of that happening!

This insistence all year long on playing B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla while they have struggled all season has baffled me, money aside!  Then reason and common sense take over finally, and both are benched in favor of some players off the bench who might contribute, and things are going well.  B.J. has still seen little playing time, and I think that has been the smart move.  So, you’re going to tell me that after a season long slump, Lasik, and two minor league games, that Dan will suddenly be a new player?  Ooooo K.  :)  I hope he is. I just have good reason to be skeptical.

Wait a sec, now.  I’ve not stepped down off my soapbox just yet.  Part of all this that upsets me as well, would be sitting the newly acquired Elliot Johnson in favor of playing Dan Uggla.  There was a collective groan all across Braves’ Country when the Braves claimed Elliot Johnson to provide depth to the ailing Atlanta infield.  Known for having a good glove, but a not-so-good bat, Elliot Johnson has played in five games for the Braves and has been a pleasant surprise.  In just those five games for Atlanta, Elliot has put together the following line…

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
Last 7 days 5 18 18 1 5 0 1 0 3 1 0 0 1 .278 .278 .389 .667 7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/28/2013.

As the line shows, he’s thrown up a respectable showing, including a triple and 3 RBIs.  His glove work has been absolutely stellar and without error, and while Elliot has not been particularly known for having a hot bat, if you go study his numbers career-long, you’ll see that when Elliot Johnson has been given ample opportunity to play enough games in a row, his bat does wake up some.  As I said, I understand the business and politics of baseball, but in my opinion, it’s just unfair, unjust, and mostly unwise if the Braves sit Elliot this early in favor of Uggla.

To be fair myself, the Braves may just hope to evaluate Dan with the big club through a series or so, and see if the Lasik has helped, and if there’s is finally a new fire in his gut to play better.  Personally, I content his issues are much more than just Lasik related, but I get that the Braves might want to see for themselves.  I’ll grant that much without complaint, but I would say that the second Dan doesn’t appear to be any better (and I hope I’m wrong), EJ should be in the wings and at the ready, despite himself missing some at-bats when he’s clearly producing!

Dan can hit the homers, and my hope will be that if the Braves do insist on playing him more than EJ through the remainder of the season, he’ll at least contribute some in that way.  Hopefully he’ll also not be so sloppy at 2nd.  Elliot plugged that hole, so I hope it stays plugged.  We’ll see folks!

Tags: Atlanta Braves FanSided

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