With Brian McCann in the book, tis time to move on to second base. Kelly Johnson, now going into his third full year with the big league club, seems to be a lock for the starting job unless we have an out-of-the-blue trade.
2005 (age 23) : 334 PA, .241/.334/.397, .323 wOBA
2006 (age 24) : Missed due to Tommy John surgery
2007 (age 25) : 608 PA, .276/.375/.457, .363 wOBA
2008 (age 26) : 614 PA, .287/.349/.446, .346 wOBA
Johnson's 2005 debut showed promise - his selectivity at the plate was well advanced (12% BB rate) and while he didn't show much power for the big league club, his minor league numbers indicated above average pop. Baseball Prospectus regarded him quite highly, comparing him favorably to both Francoeur and McCann in their 2006 annual. Unfortunately, Johnson's development was put on hold after requiring surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament.
After completing rehab, Johnson moved from the outfield to second base and won the job during 2007 spring training. It was to be a breakout campaign for Kelly. He managed to cut his strikeout rate, raise his average, hit for more power, and maintain his excellent discipline at the dish. The defensive transition was a little rough - UZR pegged him for -8.4 runs per 150 games played at second base.
2008 saw some rather serious regression in Johnson's game. His walk rate fell off significantly - from 13% all the way down to 8.7% - and his isolated power dropped by .20 points. There were some bright signs though, as his strikeout rate declined for the second consecutive year. As in 2007, the defense wasn't exactly masterful, though it is worth noting that his UZR/150 was exactly the same as it had been the year prior.
CHONE projects Kelly for a .281/.371/.451 year in 2009 - a combination of his improved contact skills and a 2007esque walk rate with an ISO somewhere in between. With no other serious contenders for the second base job, I tend to think that 600 plate appearances is a solid estimation at this time. Defensively, he's clearly below average, but no butcher either. -7 runs seems safe to me.
Overall, I like this projection, though I do have lingering doubts that TP may be coaching him towards a more hacktastic style at the plate.
As before, everyone is encouraged to participate - just keep it friendly.