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February 2012

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COMMENTS

Reed Johnson: The Man, The Beard, The Legend

Written by , Posted in General

My unhealthy obsession with Reed Johnson started during my freshman year of college when I went up to Toronto for series between the Jays and Red Sox. It was a nice August day and the roof was open at the Rogers Centre. Josh Beckett was on the mound that day and was handling a struggling Jays lineup with ease. I can’t remember for sure if Mr. Johnson had a hit that day, but I do remember being absolutely astounded by a diving catch he made on a blooper to short center. It wasn’t more than an inning later that Reed vaulted himself up the wall underneath the hotel balconies to rob JD Drew of a double.

On March 25, 2008 my good buddy Dave knocks on my dorm room door with a grin on his face and a little bit out of breath, which I later decided was due to excitement. He asks me if I have been on to MLBTradeRumors.com, in which I subsequently tell him no. As if he can’t wait any longer he spits out some combination of “Reed Johnson! Cubs! Signed!”  The next few minutes are a bit of a blur, but I can confirm that there may have been jumping on my bed and a hoot or two. Dave and I always shared the mutual love for under appreciated and somewhat skillfully-limited baseball players, a category which I place Reed Johnson in.

"I believe that Johnson can be a factor for the Cubs successes in a season that has no real expectations from both fans and management."

Johnson quickly became a fan favorite at Wrigley (at least so I hear since I’m not a season ticket holder nor do I live remotely close to Chicago) because of his hustle on the field and candor off of it. According to Johnson it was that very reason that he came back to Chicago after his one season stint with the Dodgers in 2010. Although I’m not sure that anyone else offered him a contract either. Despite getting only a minor league contract from the Cubbies last off-season, he played well enough in Spring Training (something he often has done throughout his career) and predictably won a bench job out of camp.

Reed played well in spot starts last season getting 266 plate appearances while showing up in 111 final box scores. He rewarded the team at the plate with a .309/.348 mark, but did struggle at the one facet of his game that’s made him a valuable major league asset: his fielding.  His fielding percentage was the worst of his career at .976, which some attributed to shifting around to all the spots in the outfield. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, because Johnson has split time at the three outfield spots for a majority of his nine season career.  The three errors in 86 fielding appearances were the most he’s had since his four error rookie campaign in which he started 94 games.  The fielding decline isn’t anything to get alarmed about just yet, although it is a bit troubling coming off his 1.000% fielding percentage season with LA.  Johnson, who just turned 35 in December, will need to show that his fielding is still up to his standards in limited duties this season, especially if he wants a major league contract after this upcoming season.

Reed is far from the player that started 143 games for that ’06 Blue Jays team that won 87 games, but he can still be an effective player in The Show. The beginning of the Cubs season will most likely determine the amount of opportunities that Johnson will get in 2012. An older outfield of Soriano, Byrd and DeJesus should provide plenty of playing time whether it be because of injury or fatigue. However if the Cubs really struggle out the gate, Theo will hear plenty of cries to start bringing up the kids as early as May. Such circumstances could both hinder his playing time and ultimately cost him a roster spot in the long run.

Now some most of you are probably wondering why on Earth I would decide to talk about a player that really has no future with the organization. Yes I have a man crush, but that’s not the only reason.  It is because I believe that Johnson can be a factor for the Cubs successes in a season that has no real expectations from both fans and management.

He’s not going to put up great numbers at the plate or get to every ball in the outfield with an aging body, but what he can provide is leadership in the clubhouse for a fairly young team. Along with Byrd, Johnson will be a mentor (hopefully) to a team that will likely see a variety of call-ups before the season closes.

I know, I know. Leadership doesn’t always mean a whole lot in baseball as it does in other sports, but we’ve all seen the aftermath of the 2011 Red Sox mess. Sometimes the best guys in the clubhouse are the guys that can will their teammates to wins during a slump or tough stretch of games.  For me, anything that Johnson can do on the field spectacularly is gravy if he can prove to be exactly what I described for this team. Sometimes it’s okay to say screw the metrics or stats and just go based off of your gut, which is exactly what I’m doing. I’m not saying that Johnson is going to greatly improve a team that will likely finish second or third in the NL Central and miss the playoffs. What I am saying is that he’s an important cog in the culture change wheel on the North Side.  Unfortunately for Johnson, he’ll unlikely see the end result of a Cubs World Series run.

Randomly Inaccurate and Unscientific projections:

.280 avg/ .330 OBP/ .992 Fielding percentage

And what could be better than some Reed Johnson Trivia to boot?

Answer: Nothing

  1. Where did he play college ball?
  2. What was his first number for the Cubs in 2008?
  3. What year was he drafted and by which team? Bonus: For naming the round.
  4. What year did he make his pro debut? (To prove you actually read)
  5. How many Reed Johnson jersey t-shirts has Josh owned?
  • Lizzie

    Great stuff, Josh. Glad to welcome your avatar too. 🙂
    And your trivia rocks. I understand the crush. I find him enjoyable to watch too and am happy he’s getting a chance. Every person on the team can’t be … Ummm … Wow so sad that I can’t think of a single Cub to wish everyone to be. Starlin Castro. There ya go! Everyone can’t be Starlin Castro and that’s ok. We’re still allowed to enjoy them!

    • Joe Aiello

      Josh bears a striking resemblance to Matt Jacobs who still roams these parts on occasion.

      • Lizzie

        Striking!!!!

      • Kris

        No joke–I was really confused for a moment. 🙂

      • Joe Aiello

        It’s actually Matt’s icon, he said I could use it, but Josh really does look a lot like Matt. Even my wife agreed with me and she never agrees with me on anything.

      • Kris

        I don’t see that much of a resemblance, but that’s because only Matt looks like Matt to me. I’m genetically pre-disposed to see it that way. :)Either way–the avatar fits. Welcome aboard, Josh!

  • Great stuff, Josh. Glad to welcome your avatar too. 🙂
    And your trivia rocks. I understand the crush. I find him enjoyable to watch too and am happy he’s getting a chance. Every person on the team can’t be … Ummm … Wow so sad that I can’t think of a single Cub to wish everyone to be. Starlin Castro. There ya go! Everyone can’t be Starlin Castro and that’s ok. We’re still allowed to enjoy them!

    • Joe Aiello

      Josh bears a striking resemblance to Matt Jacobs who still roams these parts on occasion.

      • Striking!!!!

      • Kris

        No joke–I was really confused for a moment. 🙂

      • Joe Aiello

        It’s actually Matt’s icon, he said I could use it, but Josh really does look a lot like Matt. Even my wife agreed with me and she never agrees with me on anything.

      • Kris

        I don’t see that much of a resemblance, but that’s because only Matt looks like Matt to me. I’m genetically pre-disposed to see it that way. :)Either way–the avatar fits. Welcome aboard, Josh!

  • Thanks Lizzie.

  • Josh Cornwall

    Thanks Lizzie.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    Welcome aboard, Josh.

    It’s hard not to like a guy like Reed Johnson, and not just for the highlight reel catches.  A better lineup could float his inconsistent hitting, but I get the sense most of this season will be an audition for the younger talent.  Still, he might be able to carve out some playing time if Byrd is traded (probable), Dejesus gets hurt (possible), or the Cubs find a taker for Soriano (hoping against hope).  If this is the beginning of the end for him, I hope his season isn’t cut short again by injuries.

  • cap’n obvious

    I know he played at Cal State Fullerton in the late 90’s…I remember seeing him play there.  Aaron Rowand was a teammate.  Game was at UCLA.  Eric Byrnes and Chase Utley were at UCLA…along with a guy I currently coach alongside.  He was on some all-academic teams as well, which always impresses me.  What a great time to be a college player.  The aluminum bats were as souped up as ever.  The ’98 College World Series was the beginning of the end of aluminum bats as I knew them.

    • That is correct. The answer to another question is within the time frame you provided too.

  • cap’n obvious

    I know he played at Cal State Fullerton in the late 90’s…I remember seeing him play there.  Aaron Rowand was a teammate.  Game was at UCLA.  Eric Byrnes and Chase Utley were at UCLA…along with a guy I currently coach alongside.  He was on some all-academic teams as well, which always impresses me.  What a great time to be a college player.  The aluminum bats were as souped up as ever.  The ’98 College World Series was the beginning of the end of aluminum bats as I knew them.

    • Josh Cornwall

      That is correct. The answer to another question is within the time frame you provided too.

  • Dave K

    Well Done!  Now get cracking on a Glen Allen Hill tribute.  

    • The infamous Dave from the story

      • Lizzie

         Welcome, infamous Dave! 🙂

  • Dave K

    Well Done!  Now get cracking on a Glen Allen Hill tribute.  

    • Josh Cornwall

      The infamous Dave from the story

      •  Welcome, infamous Dave! 🙂

  • In an age where so much emphasis is placed upon the elite, it’s nice to see good players get some respect they deserve.  Can Neifi Perez be far behind?

  • In an age where so much emphasis is placed upon the elite, it’s nice to see good players get some respect they deserve.  Can Neifi Perez be far behind?

  • Desert Rat

    The article seems to base Reed Johnson’s defensive performances on his Fielding Percentage.   Aren’t there better ways?   I wouldn’t think errors are indicative of how good or bad a fielder is.   Isn’t it “Chances per Nine Innings.” or something like that, to show how many more batted balls he would get to, that average fielders wouldn’t get to?   (And of course, if he GETS to more batted balls, he probably commits more errors.)

    • No errors and fielding percentage is not the end all be all. He certainly didn’t have a horrible season, but he also didn’t have many assists in the outfield. Fielding percentage does take some account into the chances he had to perform.   And according to Fangraphs, his defensive runs saved was down from his norm too. Again defensive assessments need the eye test sometimes instead of metrics. A guy might make spectacular catches, but take a poor initial read on the ball to force him to make such plays i.e. Curtis Granderson in the 2011 playoffs.  

      I wasn’t really trying to make this a stats assessment. I was just using a general metric to show that he wasn’t as good per usual.

    • BLPCB

       Use fielding percentage in conjunction with range factor. Because to make an error, it means you have to have gotten to the baseball. This is why Derek Jeter is the biggest joke to win the gold glove. You have 2 shortstops, identical position. A ball is hit. Jeter can’t get to it, no error, his fielding percentage isn’t touched. Omar Vizquel, a much better fielder gets to it, but he either bobbles the ball or his throw pulls the 1B off the bag. He gets an error and his fielding percentage goes down.

  • Desert Rat

    The article seems to base Reed Johnson’s defensive performances on his Fielding Percentage.   Aren’t there better ways?   I wouldn’t think errors are indicative of how good or bad a fielder is.   Isn’t it “Chances per Nine Innings.” or something like that, to show how many more batted balls he would get to, that average fielders wouldn’t get to?   (And of course, if he GETS to more batted balls, he probably commits more errors.)

    • Josh Cornwall

      No errors and fielding percentage is not the end all be all. He certainly didn’t have a horrible season, but he also didn’t have many assists in the outfield. Fielding percentage does take some account into the chances he had to perform.   And according to Fangraphs, his defensive runs saved was down from his norm too. Again defensive assessments need the eye test sometimes instead of metrics. A guy might make spectacular catches, but take a poor initial read on the ball to force him to make such plays i.e. Curtis Granderson in the 2011 playoffs.  

      I wasn’t really trying to make this a stats assessment. I was just using a general metric to show that he wasn’t as good per usual.

    • AC0000000

       Use fielding percentage in conjunction with range factor. Because to make an error, it means you have to have gotten to the baseball. This is why Derek Jeter is the biggest joke to win the gold glove. You have 2 shortstops, identical position. A ball is hit. Jeter can’t get to it, no error, his fielding percentage isn’t touched. Omar Vizquel, a much better fielder gets to it, but he either bobbles the ball or his throw pulls the 1B off the bag. He gets an error and his fielding percentage goes down.

  • Seymour Butts

    Quite a tribute..I understand he plays hard too! 

    • I have MLB Network in HD, and yes, that’s no cup.

  • Jedi

    Josh, we trust that you’re a fine upstanding God-fearing man Christian morals and principles who will set an example and a standard of leadership for our boys. Tell me do you believe in the absolute preeminence of sabermetrics?

    • Jedi,

      To be honest, there are some things in sports that just can’t be explained by advanced metrics. People do their best to do so, but I don’t think we’ve found a perfect way for determining the value of a player.

      • Jedi

        That was a bit of a modified quote from Hoosiers – wasn’t really being serious…welcome aboard.

      • Hoosiers, I knew we could find some common ground if we looked hard enough.

      • I am terrible at movie quotes. My friends quote them all day and I just look like an idiot. I watch movies all the time and have seen Hoosiers tons of times. I just can’t remember quotes. Sorry for being a bit slow on that haha.

  • Jedi

    Josh, we trust that you’re a fine upstanding God-fearing man Christian morals and principles who will set an example and a standard of leadership for our boys. Tell me do you believe in the absolute preeminence of sabermetrics?

    • Josh Cornwall

      Jedi,

      To be honest, there are some things in sports that just can’t be explained by advanced metrics. People do their best to do so, but I don’t think we’ve found a perfect way for determining the value of a player.

      • Jedi

        That was a bit of a modified quote from Hoosiers – wasn’t really being serious…welcome aboard.

      • Hoosiers, I knew we could find some common ground if we looked hard enough.

      • Josh Cornwall

        I am terrible at movie quotes. My friends quote them all day and I just look like an idiot. I watch movies all the time and have seen Hoosiers tons of times. I just can’t remember quotes. Sorry for being a bit slow on that haha.

  • cap’n obvious

    I actually agree (gasp) with Noah with respect to fielding percentage.  Official scorers in MLB stadiums are, by and large, decent at their jobs.  Just like me, however, they sometimes have bad days.  Further, I feel that fielding percentage is skewed to the advantage of the veteran average fielder, who is rarely charged with an error on a difficult play.  Conversely, great fielders can be overly-expected to make great plays, and be charged with errors that they otherwise would not be.  I have no statistical basis to back me up.  I’ve just seen it happen dozens of times both ways. 

    Hopefully the above isn’t offensive or antagonistic to anyone, as I’ve truly made an errot to placate those who believe in statistical analysis, and all other commenters.  With the exception of Doc Raker and Seymour.  I couldn’t care less what those two windbags think.

  • cap’n obvious

    I actually agree (gasp) with Noah with respect to fielding percentage.  Official scorers in MLB stadiums are, by and large, decent at their jobs.  Just like me, however, they sometimes have bad days.  Further, I feel that fielding percentage is skewed to the advantage of the veteran average fielder, who is rarely charged with an error on a difficult play.  Conversely, great fielders can be overly-expected to make great plays, and be charged with errors that they otherwise would not be.  I have no statistical basis to back me up.  I’ve just seen it happen dozens of times both ways. 

    Hopefully the above isn’t offensive or antagonistic to anyone, as I’ve truly made an errot to placate those who believe in statistical analysis, and all other commenters.  With the exception of Doc Raker and Seymour.  I couldn’t care less what those two windbags think.

  • Katie

    Finally, someone who agrees with me on Byrd and Johnson!

    • Hi fives!

      • Katie

        Always have been a fan of their hustle and attitudes. And Reed Johnson robbed Prince Fielder of a grand slam a few years back that should have been on MLB Network’s top 75 catches…

      • BLPCB

        That rob was awesome! I remember he didn’t start that game either. I think he came in bc Hasbro got hurt

  • Katie

    Finally, someone who agrees with me on Byrd and Johnson!

    • Josh Cornwall

      Hi fives!

      • Katie

        Always have been a fan of their hustle and attitudes. And Reed Johnson robbed Prince Fielder of a grand slam a few years back that should have been on MLB Network’s top 75 catches…

      • AC0000000

        That rob was awesome! I remember he didn’t start that game either. I think he came in bc Hasbro got hurt

  • Doc Raker

    Rj was drafter by the Twins. I know his room mate from AAA. The roommate washed out due to injury but came up through the system with RJ and the current crop of studs. I had dinner with an old friend tonight at Flemings. I order a filet medium rare, they bring it out well done. I say, ‘if your medium rare is my well done then just season and sear it rare and bring me a new one”. They bring me this filet that is seared raw, it was like eating sushi , it was good. RJ likes his steak medium rare.

  • Doc Raker

    Rj was drafter by the Twins. I know his room mate from AAA. The roommate washed out due to injury but came up through the system with RJ and the current crop of studs. I had dinner with an old friend tonight at Flemings. I order a filet medium rare, they bring it out well done. I say, ‘if your medium rare is my well done then just season and sear it rare and bring me a new one”. They bring me this filet that is seared raw, it was like eating sushi , it was good. RJ likes his steak medium rare.

  • Doc Raker

    Well done Josh and welcome aboard. You are optimistic about this 2012 Cubs team by forecasting a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the NLC, even a 2006 RJ couldn’t get this team into second place.

  • Doc Raker

    Well done Josh and welcome aboard. You are optimistic about this 2012 Cubs team by forecasting a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the NLC, even a 2006 RJ couldn’t get this team into second place.

  • I guess talent wise they are more like 4th in the division. But behind the Cardinals, there are so many wild cards that could shake up the division. Like how will Braun’s suspension hurt the Brewers? Are the Pirates really going to get better? The Astros still suck, so that’s not even a question. And then of course the Reds are the other team I really see being better than the Cubs. Maybe I’m being a little optimistic, but I always am before the season starts.

    • Even with Braun in the mix, the Reds may be the second most talented in the Central.  I agree we cruise in at a cool 4th… nowhere to go but up.  

  • Josh Cornwall

    I guess talent wise they are more like 4th in the division. But behind the Cardinals, there are so many wild cards that could shake up the division. Like how will Braun’s suspension hurt the Brewers? Are the Pirates really going to get better? The Astros still suck, so that’s not even a question. And then of course the Reds are the other team I really see being better than the Cubs. Maybe I’m being a little optimistic, but I always am before the season starts.

    • Even with Braun in the mix, the Reds may be the second most talented in the Central.  I agree we cruise in at a cool 4th… nowhere to go but up.  

  • Doc Raker

    I think the Reds win the division. The Brewers, Pirates and Cardinals will battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The Cubs will battle with the Astros for the 5th spot in the division.

    • CubbieDude

      The Cubs will battle the Astros for the 6th spot in the division.

      • Doc Raker

        True Cubbiedude

  • Doc Raker

    I think the Reds win the division. The Brewers, Pirates and Cardinals will battle for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The Cubs will battle with the Astros for the 5th spot in the division.

    • CubbieDude

      The Cubs will battle the Astros for the 6th spot in the division.

      • Doc Raker

        True Cubbiedude