Jun 9, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Chris Johnson (23) during the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Kubitza, a platoon partner for Braves Chris Johnson?

Analyzing the Problem for Braves Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson has simply destroyed left-handed pitching this year.  In 46 at-bats against southpaws, Johnson has a 1.025 OPS.  On the less shiny side of the penny, the 3-bagger has been putrid against right-handed pitching; a .579 OPS in 227 at-bats.  While this is not the norm for Chris as far as career numbers are concerned, it would be at least smart to start looking into internal options should the struggles continue.

This wasn’t the Braves initial plan…

If you recall, the Braves started off last year with a platoon at third base, the left side of it being Juan Francisco.  Juan Francisco played himself out of his side of the platoon simply by not producing and Chris didn’t stop hitting all year. His .772 OPS against RHP last year, while far less than his .939 OPS against LHP, would most definitely suffice.  But, as of now, the Braves have to be at least pondering the idea of searching for a platoon.  With Gavin Floyd out for the year and Aaron Harang likely destroying every bit of his trade value in his last start, the place to start looking should be within.  This is where Kyle Kubitza comes in…

My wife and I with Kyle Kubitza, after a pre-game interview in Pensacola.

My wife and I with Kyle Kubitza, after a pre-game interview in Pensacola.

Say this 5 times fast…

An Internal Platoon Solution

Kyle is the 23 year old 3rd baseman for the Mississippi Braves.  Through 65 games, he has an .845 OPS which is complimented by a .404 OBP.  A left-handed hitter, Kyle does have 10-15 HR power, but it’s likely been suppressed by the numerous pitcher-friendly parks that are prevalent in the AA Southern League.  And while he only has 3 HR to his name this year, his gap-to-gap power hasn’t slowed; 16 doubles and 3 triples. While he hasn’t been the most successful base stealer in the past, Kubitza is 12/13 in stolen base attempts this year.  He has above average speed, but not necessarily built for stealing bases regularly.  What stands out the most about Kyle’s offensive game is his patience.  He walks 15% of his plate appearances. That’s more than anyone else affiliated with the Braves, majors or minors, and like La Stella, a patient approach would be a refreshing site for the strikeout heavy team that’s been taking the field thus far this year.

There are a few scouts that say Kyle’s in the build of a guy like Ben Zobrist who has the hands soft enough to play all over the diamond, with a great arm to boot.  Boy…that sounds refreshing.

Keep an eye on both Chris Johnson’s production in Atlanta and Kyle Kubitza’s production in Pearl, Mississippi. If Chris can’t get rolling and Kyle continues to hit, Kyle could be an option for a platoon.

Tags: Braves Chris Johnson Kyle Kubitza

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