Josh Johnson's MLB Stats
Why He Struggled Last Season
Josh Johnson moved to the American League after parts of eight seasons in the Senior Circuit. He received a rude welcome, yielding 15 earned runs through four April starts (6.86 earned run average) before heading to the disabled list with a strained triceps.
Johnson gave the Toronto Blue Jays two more mediocre months on the mound before returning to the DL with another issue in his throwing arm. Dr. James Andrews attributed his poor performance to bone spurs in his elbow, according to agent Matt Sosnick (via Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors), and surgery was successfully completed in October to remove them.
A stark difference in the dimensions of Marlins Park—where Johnson spent 2012—and the Rogers Centre clearly hurt him. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed 11 home runs in 49.1 innings at home in 2013, compared to just five long balls in 109.1 home innings the previous season.
He also struggled to adjust to the AL's longer lineups. The No. 9 hitters who faced Johnson with Toronto combined for a .324/.333/.618 batting line, whereas pitchers have a laughable .092/.120/.109 batting line against him through the years.
Why He'll Bounce Back
Even after the San Diego Padres modified the fences at Petco Park, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that it's still a very pitcher-friendly environment.
Unlike typical power pitchers, Johnson generates nearly as many grounders as fly balls. Unfortunately, his Blue Jays teammates didn't efficiently convert them into outs, turning only four double plays in 78 opportunities. That 5 percent success rate paled in comparison to his 10 percent career average.
Middle-infield instability was at least partially responsible; Toronto used 11 different starting combinations at second base and shortstop in 2013, making it difficult to develop any semblance of chemistry. Barring injury, the Padres will consistently pair Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera at those positions.
Signing with San Diego brings Johnson back to the National League, which means head-to-head matchups against his counterparts. We'll mention again that he limits pitchers to a .092 batting average, the 10th-best of anybody over the past quarter-century (min. 50 IP vs. pitchers).
Lastly, by distancing himself from Rogers' Centre artificial surface, Johnson can expect his outrageous .356 BABIP to settle down.
In 2010, James Shields was the victim of a bloated .341 BABIP and 1.50 HR/9, culminating in a career-worst 5.18 ERA. And like Johnson this past summer, Shields' fielders didn't take advantage of double-play opportunities.
Improved luck the following year—and a few more strikeouts—propelled him to a third-place finish in AL Cy Young Award voting.