Second base might be one of the biggest make or break positions for the Braves next year. There's a potential for improved performance from last year, but there is also the possibility that it could become an offensive black hole for the team. Can Kelly Johnson repeat his performance of last year? Will his penchant for hot streaks and long slumps be amplified or exploited by NL pitchers? Will his defense be what our ground ball pitching staff needs it to be?
Part of what he will do in 2008 may depend on where in the batting order he's hitting. No matter where he hits he does a great job of getting on base, so if he leads off we can rest assured that we have someone who puts up a good OBP. His leadoff OBP was .372 last year; even while he only hit .268 out of the leadoff spot. He actually seemed to struggle the most while batting second, compiling only a .244 batting average (still had a .350 OBP). He was most comfortable while hitting seventh. In 61 at-bats in the seventh-hole KJ hit .377 with a .457 OBP. Now, this could have come during one of his "hot streaks." On the other hand the hot streak could have been a product of his comfort with that spot in the batting order.
I think if we hit him either lead-off or seventh we'll get good production from him. Here is my prediction for KJ in 2008:
.289/.391/.480 with 18 HR, 72 RBI, 88 BB, 112 SO.
I expect and hope that he will improve his all-around game no matter where he hits. He seems to be a very smart ball player who listens to his coaches and veteran players and that should help him weather his slumps. His easy stroke and smooth hitting mechanics should also help reduce his slump tendencies as he gets more experience.