This player preview was written by Leah, who writes the blog Braves Girl Blog, and also posts here as mccannfan.
Kelly Johnson had an average 2008 season, but finished it off with a strong showing in the month of September. He improved a great deal in different categories, offensively and defensively, but there is still a need for continued improvement. Overall, he's an average player with a lot of potential to finally become the player the Braves planned on him becoming when they drafted him.
In 2009, KJ's main focus should be to start where he left off in September, and even improve on those numbers. One of his main weaknesses is that he can be an extremely streaky hitter. He will go through long periods where he's hitting the cover off the ball, then other times when he can't buy a hit. One of KJ's other major weaknesses, but also one of his greater assets, is his plate discipline. Sometimes he can be too selective at the plate, which usually ends up hurting him. Usually, though, his plate discipline is more of an advantage than a hindrance.
Last season, more so than any other previous seasons, KJ began to mix in too much aggression when at the plate that would result in losing his focus, or thinking too much, while trying too hard to make something happen, as was the norm throughout most of the Braves lineup in 2008. As a hitter he fits nearly anywhere in the lineup, but he seems to be most comfortable in the bottom portion of the lineup, in the 6th or 7th holes producing runs instead of scoring them. He, along with a lot of other baseball people, think that he's capable of reaching the 20-25 home run mark in a season.
In the field, KJ is regarded by most Braves fans to be a defensive liability, with many fans remembering a certain dropped pop-up more than most of his other errors. While he isn't the best second baseman in the league or a Gold Glover, he is only in his third year at second base, and he's not as bad as he's been made out to be. He does seem to have difficulties when fielding balls to his right, but he is a tireless worker, and has no doubt spent the off-season improving his game in the field. Over the past two seasons, he's made a total of 28 errors, 14 each season. But toward the end of last year his defense improved, perhaps because of the confidence he gained while on a tear at the plate.
If KJ, 27-years old this year, keeps his mindset where it was in September, he should find success at the plate and in the field. As long as he stays consistent and remains confident in his own abilities, he should have a productive season.
Thanks to Leah for a great preview of KJ (and I hope everything is okay with your fam).