Johnson's insistence to swing and swing some more came from two separate feelings -- gratitude, because his body finally feels good, and determination, because sometimes, his swing still doesn't.And this from today's Examiner, in a piece titled, "Teams hope spring struggles fall by the wayside":
"No, I wouldn't say my swing feels like I want it to," Johnson said. "But hopefully in these next couple weeks I can turn it up a notch. I'm just trying to get that feel, just to be ready when the bell rings."
Johnson arrived at Space Coast Stadium on Saturday morning with a .167 spring training average (5 for 30), not that he knew the numbers. He just knew the root cause: He was still searching for comfort. So at 10 a.m. he took batting practice on the main field, and then asked hitting coach Rick Eckstein to join him on a minor league field for another 15 minutes of work. On this day, the Washington Nationals had Johnson batting fourth, starting at first base. Still treated by those around him as a known commodity, Johnson intended to prove them right.
The great gap in Johnson's track record provides the context for this spring.
Washington’s likely starting first baseman has missed almost the entire past two seasons combined. His timing reflects that absence as he had just five hits in his first 30 at-bats. The good news: Three of the hits were homers.One problem with this thesis. Nick is having a pretty damn good spring, thank you very much.
Following today's game, he had an OBP of .363 and an SLG of .527. There were exactly eight players in the entire National League last year that could match both of those numbers: Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Lance Berkman, Ryan Ludwick, Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez, David Wright, and Chase Utley. "Spring troubles," my foot.
So what's the disconnect? It's the .222 batting average. It's a case study in why BA is a dumb stat. Any stat that ignores almost 20% of a guy's plate appearances, all of which end with him on first base, is not a very helpful stat for evaluating a guy's overall value.
So stop worrying about Nick. There is no "great gap" in his performance. He's our best player, and he's showing it this spring. We should be so lucky to have him keep it up once the regular season starts.