As many, many people have pointed out on Twitter or in the comments or in various emails, Kelly Johnson’s career splits are not substantial. He actually has a higher career OPS against lefties (.770) than against righties (.759). It hasn’t been that way in recent years — lately he’s been quite a bit better against right-handers — but the career trend is enough to wonder why the Yankees are limiting Johnson to a platoon role.
The answer is, they’re not.
“I think you’re going to look at, in a sense, as three guys for two spots,” Joe Girardi said. “You’ve got Brian Roberts, you’ve got Kelly, and you’re going to have another guy that’s going to be able to spell Brian, going to be able to spell Kelly, (and occasionally) Kelly’s going to move to first so you’ll need that guy (to play third).
“Kelly’s going to play a lot, though. I like what I’ve seen from him, and he’s going to play a lot.”
Basically, for this extra infield spot, a right-handed hitter seems to fit best because it would make sense to sit Johnson against some lefties. But that doesn’t mean Johnson’s going to sit against all lefties. The fact he’ll be the primary backup at first base, while also potentially getting some time at second — and maybe even the outfield if necessary — leaves plenty of ways to get Johnson’s bat in the lineup. If he’s productive, he’ll play.
“We kind of thought about (a platoon) a little bit going into the season when we signed Kelly,” Girardi said. “But his at-bats have been good against right handers (and) left handers. There’s some different things we can do with it, obviously. He’s going to play a lot, let’s put it that way.”
Associated Press photo