One of the biggest storylines this offseason for the Atlanta Braves was replacing the legendary Chipper Jones. So far, it has been a seamless transition and arguably even an upgrade in 2013.
Clearly Chris Johnson, and Juan Francisco have a long way to go to have just half the career that Jones enjoyed, but the combination of the two, along with Ramiro Pena, has improved the production at third base from 2012 to 2013.
Johnson and Francisco entered the 2013 season facing a platoon situation but have performed well under the circumstances. All Johnson has done is lead the MLB in hitting with a .397 batting average entering Wednesday. Meanwhile, Francisco has hit four home runs with 10 RBIs — both good for third on the team.
Those are pretty good numbers from two vastly unproven players.
Many of Johnson’s at-bats have come playing first base as Freddie Freeman nursed his oblique injury, so it would be unfair to compare his stats playing at first to Jones in 2012. Strictly looking at Johnson, Francisco and Pena at third base, the three have combined for a .309 average with six home runs and 12 RBIs.
At this point in 2012, Jones was hitting .276 with two home runs and eight RBIs. He also scored six runs compared to 13 from the trio this season.
Will that continue for an entire season? Johnson will not hit .400 for the entire season, but him and Francisco are capable of matching or bettering the production from Jones in 2012. They have started fast out of the gates in an attempt to do just that.
Not bad, considering the Braves are paying the trio roughly $4 million in comparison to $14 million for Jones in 2012.