Another HDIB? favorite becomes a baseball emeritus.
Granted, this news comes years after his body decided to involuntarily retire on him, but it nonetheless comes with sadness that a player with so much potential has to part ways with the game with unanswered questions and unfinished business. A quick look at his career stats show not only the polish that made him a highly regarded prospect of the 1996 MLB Draft out of McClatchy High School in Sacramento, CA, but also the statistical pock marks of numerous injuries that sapped him of playing time and production.
What really jumps out in terms of Johnson’s production is his career 123 OPS+, which puts him in some heady company. Other first basemen with career OPS+ of 123 include Glenn Davis and Justin Morneau; at career 122 OPS+ are names like fellow Sacramentan Derrek Lee and Hall of Famer Tony Perez. When healthy, Johnson’s ability to get on base and generate offense, all while proving fairly adept around first base defensively was historically impressive.
Yet, history will only be impressed by his fatal flaw, which was staying on the field – his injury history reads much like a Stedman’s Medical Dictionary- and for that, history will be poorer. Poorer knowing that a player who in many respects epitomized a baseball evaluation ideology, in the form of Moneyball, will never be truly admired or properly remembered for his abilities, which were so frequently overlooked in a time and at a position where power ruled the roost.