When the trade that brought Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for fan-favorite Martin Prado and multiple prospects was announced, few Braves fans had any idea who Johnson was, or how important he would be to Atlanta's offense in the 2013 season.
After spending his first six years with the Houston Astros, and being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks at the 2012 trade deadline, many considered him a "throw-in" negotiated by Frank Wren.
After multiple injuries to Atlanta's bullpen led to the call-up of left-hander Alex Wood from Double-A, Francisco was designated for assignment, and eventually traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. Moving forward from June, Johnson was the everyday starting third-baseman for the Braves.
While Justin Upton's extremely hot start in April captivated Braves fans as the team surged to a 12-1 start, Johnson was quietly putting up impressive offensive numbers long after Upton cooled off, especially for someone that many people considered to be a “throw-in.”
Although his defense leaves much to be desired, his offense has led him to being a serious contender for the National League batting title, sporting a league-best .339 batting average, and becoming the first Braves player to have eight multi-hit games since the team moved to Atlanta.
While the Braves offense has been described by many as feast or famine throughout the season, Johnson, along with Freddie Freeman, have been two of the most consistent batters in the Braves' lineup.
Johnson has had an astronomical .419 BABIP thus far in his 2013 campaign, and while many have expected regression, Johnson has thus far given no indication of a drop in his offensive production. Even with his defense leaving much to be desired, Johnson's performance has led to a respectable 2.1 WAR for 2013, the best of his career.
Johnson has not only filled the void left at the hot corner by Chipper Jones' retirement, but has quietly helped to carry the Braves' offense through their 2013 season as he has a career year behind the plate.
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