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Arizona Diamondbacks' Kelly Johnson: Are the Homers Here To Stay?

PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is congratulated by teammate Kelly Johnson #2 after Young scored a ninth inning run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 24, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Dodgers defeated the Diamondbacks 3-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Bryan CurleyCorrespondent ISeptember 1, 2016

Really? Kelly Johnson hit 26 home runs?

By now you can probably tell I don’t quite buy into Johnson as a new-found power source. If you saw this coming last March while we were all tabbing Ian Stewart as the breakout home run threat of 2010, then I guess you probably expected that Jonathan Broxton would lose his job in LA, that Jose Bautista would make 54 easy trots around the diamond and that even Derek Jeter has a little Roger Clemens’ “It’s all about the Benjamins” in him.

But even if you pegged Johnson as a viable source of power, here’s something you probably didn’t expect; Johnson’s jump in homers was almost solely the result of an incredible increase in power versus left-handed pitchers.

Johnson, a lefty himself, had hit nine homers in 462 career at-bats versus LHP (every 51.3 AB). In 2010 he hit 12 homers in 184 at-bats versus southpaws (every 15.3 AB). Despite this astounding jump, his home run rate versus RHP remained almost the same: one every 33.3 at-bats entering 2010 and one every 28.6 at-bats in 2010.

This odd trend will likely correct itself, and once it does we can expect Johnson to return to his normal mid-teens home run output, which will kill most of the fantasy value he had anyway. His 71 RBI and .284 average were rather pedestrian despite the power spike, and those numbers will probably drop accordingly anyway once Johnson starts hitting like, well, himself.

For more 2011 player profiles and fantasy advice, check out Baseball Professor.

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