Something became very clear when last night’s Atlanta Braves game came to an end with a go-ahead and eventually game-winning RBI single by Chris Johnson. This guy is a very important part of the offense of the Braves. Sure, Justin Upton is a big deal and Freddie Freeman was in the MVP voting last season for a reason but Johnson is more than a little underrated by even some strong Braves fans.
Last season he had a great year and nearly won the batting title of the National League. That should point to his importance but because he didn’t drive in 95 to 100 runs, it became way more simple that it should have been. Oh sure he led the league in hitting, some might have said, but he didn’t drive in a ton of runs. That really doesn’t matter when you get down to the point of it all. He was on base a ton of times last year.
Again that sounds simple but is actually very important. Imagine if he had gotten as many hits this April as he did during April of 2013? The Braves would have had that many more chances where another hit would have at least moved runners along. His batting average could be said to be bad right now but that also shows how good of a hitter he can be. His batting average now for instance would be considered a very good year for B.J. Upton, who is having a better season by the way.
As Johnson continues to regain his form from one year ago, don’t be surprised if the Braves offense turns up the heat quite a bit. It could be that while Freeman and Upton are very important, neither of them is actually more vital to the offense than Johnson. I guess time and the next few months will tell the tale.