While a lot of eyes, including mine, are focused on the power display in the Atlanta Braves new outfield, who will play third base still remains an unanswered question. The initial reaction from the Braves was that they could play a platoon system at third but recent comments from the team’s management suggest they would prefer to have an everyday man over there. Chris Johnson has never stopped trying to win the job since he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks and is starting to put distance between he and Juan Francisco.
Johnson has found his power stroke over the past few games and it is a good one that looks right in place beside that of Justin Upton. Offensively Johnson is much more even in how he handles pitchers from either side of the rubber than Francisco. Though he has made some strides in the right direction, Francisco remains pull happy at times while Johnson finds hitting the other way and pitchers from the other side of the rubber quite simple.
If his offense continues to show this display then the only question remaining will be Johnson’s defense. There are lingering questions about it but when you look at the numbers he has been solid to say the least. Actually his career range factor is over 2.5 compared to Francisco’s which is in the low twos. In fact his career range factor is higher than that of Chipper Jones.
This spring’s range has been outrageous and is well over five. I think in spite of a simple dropped blooper early in the spring, that Johnson is making his case to be the everyday man at third both offensively and defensively. Francisco would be a massively effective bench man from the left side late in games. It is early and anything can happen, but I think that is the way you’ll see it play out.