Fredi Gonzalez made it clear after the rosters for the NLDS were released, that leaving Dan Uggla off was one of the hardest decisions of his managerial career. Many people were upset with the decision by the Atlanta Braves‘ front office, but it’s really hard to argue in favor of a person who’s provided a .179 batting average, even if more than .25 percent of his 80 hits were home runs.
Now that two games of the NLDS have passed, we can take a look at what Uggla’s replacement, Elliot Johnson, has done, or, conversely, has not done, since the series began. In seven plate appearances, Johnson has struck out four times and has no hits. Perhaps his most glaring failure was in Game 2, when he batted after Andrelton Simmons was (foolishly) ordered to bunt runners to second and third. While Johnson put up a semi-respectable battle to make contact and bring the runner on third in, he struck out. If Don Mattingly doesn’t make the worst managing decision available to him at the time, the Braves probably lose that game in no small part because of Johnson.
He hasn’t done much defensively for Atlanta either. Sure, he was a part of two of the three double plays the Braves executed on Saturday night, but it was nothing Uggla couldn’t have gotten done. Johnson has cost the Braves at least one, if not two, runs thus far in the series. First, when he failed to properly secure a pick in Game 1 and the runner was knocked in by a two run homer soon thereafter, and during Game 2, when he was unable to relay a ball from Justin Upton cleanly, which allowed a runner to score uncontested.
Despite Johnson’s failures so far, I’m not ready to say Uggla should be playing quite yet, because he likely would have struck out just as many times, but I do think he would have managed at least one appearance on base in seven chances. Even so, Uggla’s defense is pretty bad and Johnson has him on that. At the end of the day, I still think Johnson gives us the best chance to win day in day out than Uggla does.