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I, Albert Lang, have been a Kelly Johnson fan, for no real reason, for some time now. I seem to be the only one. ESPN has him in the 200s, and his ADP is at 253. Certainly his 2011 (.222/.304/.413) did nothing to engender him to fantasy players, but I think this just makes him a steal for 2012.

Kelly Johnson has what is known as a reverse platoon split. Basically, lefty batters tend to do better against right handers, but that’s not the case with Johnson.

For his career, Johnson has hit .287/.343/.465 against lefties and .249/.343/.431 against righties and he has a .347 BABIP against southpaws and .296 against righties. Last year, he had a .271 BABIP against lefties and .280 BABIP against righties. There’s a slight chance that Johnson just got a little lucky in his previous 726 plate appearances against southpaws, but I’m going to bet that the unlucky part was the 161 PAs he had against lefties in 2011. At just 30, we wouldn’t expect his batted ball rates to fall off a cliff.

Obviously, it follows that Johnson’s BABIP was far lower in 2011 than historically (.311 for his career, just .277 last year). However he hit pretty much the same amount of ground balls, line drives and fly balls as he has in the past. I expect that BABIP to bounce back and his average to come with it.

While Johnson swung at a few more pitches outside of the strike zone in 2011, the biggest surprise in his plate discipline is that his contact rate on strikes went way down. It was 79.8% last year, an incredible drop from his average (87.2%) and previous low (86.9%).

Johnson will bounce back to hit in the .250s with 18-22 HRs, 15+ SBs and a healthy amount of runs and RBIs. When you think about up the middle values in fantasy baseball, you should be targeting Johnson. In addition, the Blue Jays had the 8th most steals last season, something tells me Johnson might run a bit more than expected.

Let’s just say:  I’d rather have Johnson than Ty Wigginton, Aaron Hill, Jemile Weeks, Dustin Ackley, Danny Espinosa, and many others.

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  1. Tony says:
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    I agree big AL, he’s fairly underrated, at least for where you can usually snag hi in drafts.

    He has his extremely hot streaks too, where if you can catch them in H2H he’s very nice to carry you during certain weeks.

  2. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
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    Wow, Tony- you must get up early (or go to bed late).

    Yeah, he tends to have a bit more value in h2h, where you can shield yourself from the droughts/AVG issues, a solid performer like him across the four counting categories is an asset in that format.

    In my rankings (which are tailored to h2h), I have Johnson as the 11th 2b. I’d roll the dice on him over someone like Neil Walker, Allen Craig, Dustin Ackley, Jemile Weeks and others.

  3. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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    It would be nice if they could fit him in the 2-hole, however i think he’s destined for the bottom of that order.

    If he was hitting in front of lawrie, bautista, etc.. his value would definitely increase.

  4. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
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    @The Talented Mr. Dope Man:
    Yeah, there’s a good chance he bats at the bottom of the order (with Thames slotting in the 2-hole – or maybe even Lawrie).

    That said, it’s an incredibly deep line-up, if he gets on base at the bottom, he’s not too far away from the boppers.

    Man, that line-up is looking fierce:

    Yunel Escobar
    Thames/Lawrie
    Bautista
    Lind
    Lawrie
    Edwin Encarnacion
    Rasmus
    JPA
    KJ

  5. Tony says:
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    @Albert Lang: HA, i dropped that message at like 7am, i dont know why it says 4:15am, must be west coast time is all i can think of…..

  6. Albert Lang

    Albert Lang says:
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    @Tony: Yeah i got it while i was at the dog park, still that’s early man!

    I do appreciate you getting the page views off to an early start!

  7. RandomItalicizedVoice says:
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    Streaky players have more value in H2H?? Hmmm….I always thought the opposite (and still do), myself. I feel like streaky players actually cause more damage in H2H when they go weeks at a time with nearly zero production. Whereas in roto, the bottom line is final numbers. It doesn’t matter what combination the numbers get produced in…they all add up at the end.

  8. chata says:
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    @Albert Lang:

    are you ever tempted to close one of your posts with
    lang syning off . ?

    sorry , i don’t share your enthusiasm for a ballplayer named kelly .
    that might , just , be the problem .

    also , any chance that you could come up with a bigger picture ,
    so that i could see what it is that you’re holding ?

  9. Terrence Mann says:
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    Nothing wrong with a late flier in Johnson but I wouldn’t take him over the younger guys you mention at the end. Weeks and Espinosa are just getting started. I wouldn’t reach for them, either, but they’re better late options. jmo

  10. @RandomItalicizedVoice:

    couple of things. I more meant that you can shield yourself from his poor average than anything else (but i was unclear0. You can consistently lose average in h2h without it hurting your place in the standings too much. If you get a 1 in average for Roto, you’re in a heap of trouble.

    In addition, a match-up in h2h changes the value of certain stats (whereas they maintain their value in Roto). If you are losing by a lot in average, there is no harm in putting a struggling kelly johnson out there (meaning, his 0-9 doesnt hurt you at all).

    Similarly, if you’re close in SB/HR it makes sense to use Johnson (and risk the average) over someone like Polanco (a guy who will just keep your average at respectable levels).

    I believe you can mitigate someone like Johnson’s downside in h2h far more than you can in roto. As you say, in roto, stats all add up in the end and you should play your best players. That’s not the case in h2h.

    Lastly, Johnson’s poor average will affect a roto’s standing at the end. However, if a multitude of Johnson’s bad average are put into 5 weeks, then his poor average is really affecting a smaller portion of the season.

  11. @Terrence Mann:

    I generally dont trust players with limited plate appearances in the majors. Espinosa is Johnson if he can somehow hit .250 (i’m dubious on whether he can ever do that).

    As for Weeks, he’s more of a one-trick pony, whereas i’d rather have the power/speed combo. In addition, Weeks was just 22/33 in SB attempts

  12. The Talented Mr. Dope Man says:
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    @Albert Lang: definitely have one of the more powerful lineups in baseball. And that’s with the speedster Rajai Davis on the bench. To bad there pitching is still lacking.

  13. @The Talented Mr. Dope Man:
    Yeah, it’s odd. Like grey I’m a Morrow fan, and Romero is a solid player. I also like Henderson Alvarez, but it does get murky there and relying on any one of them doesnt seem wise. With a few pitchers, that’d be a very interesting time….

  14. Terrence Mann says:
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    Fair enough. I would also include Ackley in that group. I wouldn’t reach for any of those guys but if I more or less punt 2B, they’re all suitable late round options along with Walker, Hill, etc.

    I guess my biggest point is that I’d go with someone with the most upside late in the draft and settle for Kelly Johnson if my upside guys are gone.

  15. @Terrence Mann:

    Yeah, they’re all a little bit of something here and there. I do trust Johnson the most, but understand why you’d like someone else.

    I’m no Ackley fan, just dont see him being anything other than a Placido Polanco type in a crappy offense (so no runs/RBIs).

    It’s always good to gamble on upside at the end of drafts. I just think Johnson has the most upside of those guys. Maybe Weeks does as he could steal 40+ bases…

  16. TheNewGuy says:
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    Not relevant to K-Jo but would appreciate your views.

    Trying to decide on my catching situation for next year in my keeper league. Ended the year with both Wieters and Avila (both FA pickups), and now have to decide which (only play 1C) if any are worth keeping, or could I get them both cheaper at auction.

    Both currently cost $6 so a 1 yr contract would cost $9, or 2 years for $12. Are either of them worth a contract or should I be able to get them cheaper at draft? Who do you like the most going forward, Avilas consistency or Wieters upside.

    Oh and its an OBP league. Thanks.

  17. Albert Lang

    Albert says:
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    @TheNewGuy:

    Oh any comments are most certainly welcome. I love talking baseball/fantasy. Heck, i’ll even talk Drew Butera (i prefer his father), if you want.

    I think both at 2 years $12/per is more than reasonable. I have Avila as my 6th ranked catcher and Wieters at 8.

    While I am super tempted to take Wieters on that contract and for the upside, the fact that OBP is a category really tips it to Avila. Dude is a walks machine. He gains a ton of valuable in your league and 2 years at $12 per is perfectly reasonable for a borderline top 5 catcher.

  18. chata says:
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    @Albert Lang:

    thanks for the link to the larger picture … my old eyes told me that it
    might be a puppy , but i didn’t want to offend with a possible comment
    on a nephew , or some other small person .

    “lang syning off” was a comment prompted by the new year holiday .

  19. Ah- thanks for reading and inquiring about the pup-shes a sweetie.

    Totally missed the NYE reference, I must admit I try to avoid that holliday

  20. TheNewGuy says:
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    @Albert:

    Thanks for the response, not aware of Drew Butera, must be too young ha. Think I agree that Avila’s OBP takes him above Wieters in my league, however another thought has crossed my mind. I know for sure C Santana isnt being kept by my rivals (bonus of trade talks), and McCann possibly isn’t either, therefore I could gamble and not keep either of my guys and try and get a top tier catcher (Santana) at auction for a good price. Worth the risk?

    I guess the question is how much would Avila likely go for at auction, as a backup if the Santanas etc bids were too high.

  21. @TheNewGuy:

    Nah, you dont know who Buterea is because he’s turrible.

    I think Avila is a $14 player. He could go for more, depends on how many teams need a top flight catcher and when he is thrown out there, so it could be anywhere from $10-$20 realistically.

    In addition, I dont like to spend a lot on catchers. they get less plate appearances and hurt more often.

    I’d rather take the savings you’re getting on Avila and invest it in a hitter who will play 160 games. Use that extra $10 to really get a top flight player.

  22. Awesomus Maximus

    Awesomus Maximus says:
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    Thanks for all the well wishes, everybody.

    Was about to go home today, but after transferring to the wheelchair, I threw up the last two days worth of food. The nurse practitioner said he couldn’t let me walk out the door like that, so I’m locked up for one more night.

    Also, I haven’t been watching any TV, so no Project Runway spoilers… or at least use a good “SPOILER TAG” so I can avoid it, por favor. Gracias, la Sociedad de mis amigos.

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