Over the next few weeks, as free agency really gets going, we are going to highlight several potential free agent targets and or should be targets for the Baltimore Orioles as they look to improve their team to make a run at a playoff berth in 2014. Today we come out firing from the surprise perfect fits under the right circumstances, Kelly Johnson.
The Orioles are looking for starting pitching, a left fielder, a full time DH, and a second baseman, well Johnson may not be the big name or full time DH the team is looking for, but he can play practically everywhere and brings with him something that a lot of Orioles hitters struggle with, On Base Percentage.
Johnson, who will be 32 when the season begins, is the definition of a utility player as he played four different defensive positions in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays and could have played right field as well if the need presented itself.
Let’s take a look at the numbers for Johnson a little bit. These are not eye popping, but solid Major League Numbers as he has a career .253 average with 124 home runs, 442 RBI, 191 doubles and a .335 OBP. Kelly is coming off of a below career average year as he hit .235 with 16 homers, 12 doubles and 52 RBI with a .305 OBP this season with the Rays, which should make him a bargain on the market.
You may be laughing to yourself that we are even mentioning Johnson, but hear us out. Johnson is going to be cheap, which is a plus for this team, he gets on base, which is an area this team desperately needs to improve on, and he can play multiple positions, which makes him even more valuable on a team., oh and don’t forget, he hits left handed. When you have someone like Johnson on your roster, it allows the manager to perhaps keep an extra bullpen arm on the team because Johnson can play so many different positions, or the manager can keep a bat that he may otherwise not have due to their inability to contribute in the field. Having Johnson on your team simply allows for a multitude of options that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Here are some more numbers to support the acquisition of Johnson as a great move for the Orioles: despite hitting left handed, he is actually better over his career against lefties hitting .276, which is an area the Orioles struggled in last season. Also, Johnson has a career batting average of .319 at Camden Yards in 20 games played and 83 plate appearances with six home runs.
Now, we will finish up by saying a couple things. Johnson would be a great addition to this team, but he is not an everyday player in the sense of penciling him in left field for 150 games, but he is certainly a guy we could see being in the lineup four or five times a week as Buck Showalter could utilize Johnson’s maneuverability to give other guys rest, that they did not seem to get in 2013. He is the same type of player as Ryan Flaherty, but with a track record of success, which could also allow Flaherty to spend time in AAA to get consistent at bats and work on his swing.
What do you think? Did we make some good points or are we crazy? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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