One year after hitting .321, Braves’ Chris Johnson isn’t showing much discipline at the plate

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

The Atlanta Braves recently signed third baseman Chris Johnson to a three-year contract extension. Johnson hit .321 (second in the NL behind Michael Cuddyer) with 46 extra-base hits and 68 RBI last season, but has a .261 batting average, .286 on-base percentage and .342 slugging percentage through 43 games this season. Part of the reason for the downturn: lack of plate discipline.

Among players qualifying for the batting title, none have swung at more pitches out of the zone than Johnson.

When a batter swings at a pitch thrown outside the strike zone, their chances of success are severely diminished. To start, strikeouts go up and walks go down.

And the hitter creates fewer extra-base hits. Here is Johnson’s isolated power — a measure of how good a player is at hitting for extra bases – based on pitches in and out of the zone. With the exception of pitches inside the plate, he hasn’t been able to generate much in terms of extra-base hits.


There has been a steady increase in the amount of swings at “hard” pitches, which account for almost two-thirds off all pitches seen (62.3 percent). And while the corresponding downturn in hacking away at off-speed pitches is encouraging, they make up just 7.4 percent of pitches Johnson has seen in 2014.

Last season, Johnson was tied for fourth-highest wins above replacement on the Braves’ roster (2.4). This season he is second to last (minus-0.5), and if he is going to turn it around it will all start with being more disciplined at the plate.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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Neil Greenberg · May 21, 2014