If you use WAR as an indicator of player value, the Atlanta Braves have two players who rank in the bottom 10 in the National League. Not surprisingly, one of them is Dan Uggla. The other player to have this dubious distinction is Chris Johnson. In fact, Johnson would be the worst player in the NL according to WAR if not for Jedd Gyorko.
This doesn’t seem right. Johnson finished second in the NL in hitting just a season ago, and he was rewarded with a contract extension earlier this season. His .260 batting average this season is higher than B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons. If you take a closer look at some of Johnson’s other stats, and you can see why he ranks so low.
Johnson has hit only two home runs this season, a big reason why he’s slugging just one point higher than Upton. He’s hit into a league-leading 11 double plays, and has 11 times as many strikeouts as walks. Save for his ability to hit a single once every four at-bats, Johnson is providing virtually nothing else on offense.
To say that he is limited defensively would be kind. He’s only made four errors in 112 chances, but his lack of range is why he has -6 defensive runs saved, worst on the team. For a comparison, 40-year-old Chipper Jones had zero defensive runs saved in his final season at the hot corner. Johnson does have one stolen base this season, but nobody is going to confuse him for Billy Hamilton.
When the Braves won the division by 10 games a year ago, Johnson’s consistent bat played a major roll. It’s no coincidence that the Braves have struggled to create separation at the top of the division this season with Johnson struggling offensively. Unfortunately for the Braves, if the third baseman can’t turn things around at the plate, there’s not a whole lot else he can provide.