Does the departure of Alex Rodriguez have to be a bad thing—wait people think that? —or can Yankee fans be optimistic about the hot corner this season. Manager Joe Girardi indicated that Kelly Johnson would be the starting third baseman, no matter the opposition’s pitcher. Is Johnson the right fit for the position?
Johnson has played only 16 games at third base during his eight seasons in the majors. He’s always been a decent fielder, but the concern this year is hitting. With additions such as Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann the top of the order will the Yankees main source of offensive production. The Yankees need to know that they will be getting quality plate appearances from the bottom half of their lineup. Johnson’s first advantage is something he has no control over, his handedness and the Yankee Stadium dimensions.
Right field has always complimented left-handed hitters in the Bronx, and Johnson hopes he can use it to his advantage. Johnson, not known for his power, has had three 20-homerun seasons and looks to use power to his advantage this year.
When Johnny Damon first arrived in New York, he came off a 10-homerun season in Boston. After settling into past hostile territory, Damon cranked 24 homers. Even Paul O’Neil increased his homerun totals after dawning the pinstripes.
After only having 12 homeruns come from 10 different guys at third base, the Yankees are looking to Johnson to provide power and keep innings alive in order to get back to the top of the order. Another excellent part of Johnson’s game is his ability to get on base. In past seasons Johnson posted an OBP of over .370. According to Fangraphs.com, .370 and over is considered great for a player.
Johnson is a good addition at the bottom of the Yankees’ lineup. Through 32 games in Spring Training, he has a .395 OBP, and can hopefully carry that over to the regular season.